Revelations surrounding how MTN negotiated its way out of the record fine imposed on it by Nigeria are just emerging. The latest disclosure has finally put to rest all speculations.
The company disclosed that it paid a total of ZAR1,3 billion approximately NGN30,8 billion to professional negotiators. The company revealed the figure in its half year financial result that showed that its gross income rose by 14% to ZAR78,8 billion.
Until now, MTN has never said anything about how it pulled off the final agreement to pay at least NGN330 billion to Nigeria. However, various analysts had predicted that the company will be paying heavy fees to professional negotiators who were involved in the process.
In the report, MTN only said it paid the money ‘on a range of professional services’ for the negotiation. No breakdown was given nor any name mentioned. Before the negotiation began, MTN did made use of Nigerian lawyers who helped it to sue the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to court over the legality of the fine. Wole Olanipekun (SAN) was the chambers MTN leveraged.
However, it is suspected that the major part of the professional fees must have gone to foreign legal experts and negotiators. Earlier this year, Financial Times had reported that MTN contracted, former American-General, Eric Holder to spearhead its negotiation team with Nigeria.
As a strong credential Holder presided over the biggest corporate settlements in US history. These included the USD13 billion that JPMorgan Chase paid over the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis, and BP’s USD18 billion fine for the Horizon oil spill.
All is well that ends well. MTN has escaped from a record fine of USD1.67 billion and it is only paying 20% of the record fine. While the company has recorded its first-ever loss per share, MTN’s boardroom can now focus on how they want to make the company compete in markets like Nigeria and South Africa where its position are overtly threatened.
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