- Collaborate With Regulators, MTNN COO Advises Investors
The Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr Mazen Mroue, has advised investors interested in doing business in Nigeria to have a proper understanding of the business dynamics in the country.
While responding to questions regarding the regulatory issues it faced in Nigeria in the past four years, Mruoe said collaboration, transparency and discussion with the regulators helped the telecom company to resolve the regulatory issues.
He said open and proactive engagements with various stakeholders and regulator on challenges investors were facing was one of the ways to succeed in Nigeria.
“For potential investors, based on our experience, they have to understand the local environment very well. They have to ensure that there is a clear and transparent process they are following. They have to be open and proactively engage various stakeholders and regulator with the challenges they are facing,” Mroue added.
“For a country like Nigeria, we understand the dynamics and how the different challenging environment has been. However, we have been here for the last 18 years. We have continued to invest and being listed on the Stock Exchange is a commitment, not only for tomorrow or for the next year but for the future. So, that is a very positive message not only for the local players for international players.”
He described Nigeria as a very promising economy and market with a youthful population that foreign investors had to approach to build capacity and capability for the future.
MTN Nigeria had faced a four-year-long regulatory battle over its failure to disconnect five million unregistered subscribers, for which it was fined $5.2bn in 2015.
However, the fine was reduced to N330bn in a settlement that paved the way for MTN to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The fine was completely paid on May 30, 2019.
The telecom company also faced $8.1bn forex repatriation dispute with the Central Bank of Nigeria in August last year.
After discussions with the regulator, the company paid $52.6m in settlement of the dispute having realised that certain Certificates of Capital Importation utilised in some private placement shares of about $1bn in 2008, were not properly issued as the company only got approval-in-principle from the CBN.
Also in the same month, the Accountant General of the Federation accused MTN of not remitting $2.1bn in back taxes, an allegation MTN refuted while maintaining its innocence of wrongdoing.
The company instituted a legal suit against the AGF challenging the legality of the assessment of its import duties, withholding tax and value-added tax.