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MTN weighing up possibility of Nigeria exit

Pan-African operator MTN is reportedly considering pulling out of the Nigerian market if what it deems the “endless hostility” of the country’s regulators continues.

Nigerian news outlet Business Journal cited unnamed MTN directors as claiming that they could exit the market if their difficulties continued into 2017. Damage to the MTN brand as a result of the negative publicity the firm has received due to its troubles in Nigeria is also a concern.

MTN has faced investigations into its Nigerian operations as well as a high profile fine in Nigeria for failing to comply with security regulations in 2015. The operator settled this dispute with the Nigerian government by agreeing to pay NGN330 billion ($1.04 billion) over three years – but only after three revisions to the demanded penalty.

Just three months after the settlement, MTN was hit with claims that it had been illegally transferring money out of Nigeria over the past ten years, with an alleged total of $13.92 billion. MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman dismissed the allegations as “completely unfounded and without any merit”.

An MTN exit would have a major impact on the Nigerian market, as it is the country’s largest operator with 59 million subscribers.