The disputes between MTN Nigeria and Nigerian authorities over $10 billion in repatriated funds and back taxes could increase risk in South Africa’s financial system depending on the outcome, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has said.
MTN Nigeria, a subsidiary of a South Africa-based telecommunication giant, MTN Group, is facing severe pressure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to return $8.1 billion it repatriated from Nigeria through illegal means.
Also, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) also demanded a sum of $2 billion in tax arrears from the South African firm, bringing the total claim by the federal government to $10.1 billion.
“The immediate, or at least near-term, repatriation of the funds to the Nigerian authorities could affect MTN Group’s ability to continue meeting its debt obligations, including those in the South African banking sector, which, given the interconnected nature of the financial system, could increase systemic risk,” the South African apex bank said in its Financial Stability Review released Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria.
The claims amount to almost all of MTN’s market value of about $12 billion, SARB stated further.
A “potential worst-case scenario” would be for MTN to pull out of Nigeria, which would increase the company’s exposure level to reputational risk, the Reserve Bank said.
On August 29, the CBN directed MTN to refund $8.1 billion shareholders’ funds it allegedly repatriated from the country through illegal means, while it imposed a combined fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.
In early September, the teleco, which has Nigeria as its largest market, sought a court injunction restraining CBN from demanding that the amount should be refunded in order to buy itself time and fight the claim which wiped as much as 18 percent off its market value within two weeks.
”In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders,” the telecom firm said in a statement.
In separate legal documents, the CBN asked the court to deny MTN’s request and said the telecommunication firm should pay 15 percent annualised interest on the sum until the court make a judgment and 10 percent from then until the whole amount is paid.
Last week Tuesday, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos adjourned hearing in the case between MTN and the AGF over the alleged $2 billion unpaid tax bill till today, Thursday, November 8, while the court adjourned till December 4 to hear the case between the telco and CBN.
Source: The Punch
HSBC and UBS have closed their offices in Nigeria, the country’s central bank said in a report on Friday as it revealed foreign investment had fallen sharply from a year ago.
The bank said foreign direct investment in Nigeria fell to 379.84 billion naira ($1.2 billion) in the first half of the year from 532.63 billion naira ($1.7 billion) a year earlier.
It did not given reasons for the bank closures.
HSBC was not available to comment and UBS declined to comment.
The central bank said the outlook for the Nigerian economy in the second half was “optimistic” given higher oil prices and production but rising foreign debt and uncertainty surrounding the 2019 presidential election was a drawback.
Investor confidence in the West African country has been shaken since the central bank in August ordered MTN to bring back $8.1 billion to the country, part of profits which the South African telecoms firm sent abroad.
An HSBC research note dated July 18 said a second Buhari term “raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration, prolonging the stagnation of his first term, particularly if there is no move towards completing reform of the exchange rate system or fiscal adjustments that diversify government revenues away from oil.”
The Nigerian Presidency has reacted furiously after British multinational banks report. In a statement, the Presidency accused the bank of thriving on "grand corruption" and helping past and present Nigerian leaders launder billions of naira.
The central bank also said three lenders failed to meet its minimum liquidity ratio of 30 percent, without naming them.
It added that non-performing loans (NPLs) have dropped to 12.4 percent as at June 2018 from 15 percent a year ago, still a long way above its 5 percent threshold.
“To further consolidate on the improvement, the Central Bank of Nigeria directed banks to intensify efforts at debt recovery, realisation of collateral for lost facilities and strengthening their risk management processes,” it said in the report.
In September, the regulator withdrew the license of Skye Bank for failing to recapitalise. It then transferred Skye’s assets to a “bridge bank” Polaris wholly-owned by the state-backed asset management company AMCON.
Nigerian banks have been trying to raise fresh capital after huge loan losses worsened by an economy that has just emerged from a recession. Diamond Bank last week denied it was in talks with investors to raise cash but said it was managing its capital, which borders on the regulatory minimum, to grow.
Another lender Unity Bank has been seeking to raise fresh funds to recapitalise.
Credit - Reuters
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fine on MTN Nigeria is very damaging to the country, Zainab Ahmed, finance minister has said.
This came as the telco confirmed it was continuing to hold talks with Nigerian officials to find a mutually acceptable solution to a dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion of funds. Ahmed, speaking at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday, said the CBN and MTN are working together towards resolving the matter.
The CBN handed MTN a fine of $10b alongside some banks for allegedly issuing irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs).
“The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us, that was one of the reasons why we have been out trying to engage investors,” Ahmed said.
“But you see, there is a tendency for big business to take regulations and governments for granted.
“After that incident happened, all the information the CBN has been trying to get in two months actually came. Now, they have almost solved the problem.”
According to her, “We are trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we are continuously discussing with monetary authorities.
“There will be no company next after MTN, nobody is next because we can’t afford for this kind of incidence to keep happening.”
Elsewhere, MTN said this week that it was continuing to hold talks with Nigerian officials to find a mutually acceptable solution to a dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion of funds.
“Shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made,” MTN said in a statement on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where its shares are listed.
Source: Comms Week
Source: The Router
MTN Group Ltd. and its bankers have provided more documents that may reduce Nigeria’s $8.1 billion claim on the South African wireless carrier, which could be resolved soon, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said.
The central bank alleged in late August that MTN and four banks -- Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc -- illegally repatriated money from Nigeria and that the company should return $8.1 billion. The local regulator also fined the four banks a combined $16 million.
Speaking to reporters in London on Sunday, Emefiele said he expected that the new information would help cut the size of the claim and that the matter would be resolved “amicably.”
“I don’t think it will be at $8.1 billion having provided documents,” Emefiele said, adding his staff is studying the documents and he hoped to make a decision on the matter in a “couple of weeks.”
MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36 percent off its market value within two weeks.
The central bank has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to deny MTN’s request and said the company should pay an annualized 15 percent interest on the dividends until the matter is ruled upon, and then 10 percent until the whole sum is paid, according to legal documents filed by the regulator.
“They will see they have been given a fair hearing,’’ Emefiele said. “More information has been provided and I’m very optimistic that matters are going to be resolved amicably.’’
Emefiele said the clash with MTN had taken a “global dimension” that it didn’t need to and that he was keen to demonstrate to international investors how open the Nigerian market is, calling the MTN matter “isolated’’ and no reason “for anyone to lose any sleep.’’
“This is not a matter that should have blown so openly,’’ he said. “Nigeria is a country that happens to be very, very open.’’
MTN Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said earlier this month the spat in Nigeria may cause the carrier to reconsider raising cash through an initial public offering of its local unit in Lagos. Instead, MTN may list the business by way of introduction, which places existing securities on the exchange.