MTN acquires Visafone while it puts off $3.9bn fine in Nigeria with court action

While the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) waits for telecommunications giant MTN Group Ltd. to pay up a $3.9 billion fine slapped on it for not disconnecting some 5.1 million unregistered subscribers, the company has continued its expansion in Africa’s largest economy with the addition of local internet provider Visafone Communications Ltd.

The regulator had earlier asked MTN to pay a $5.2 billion penalty before reducing it to $3.9 billion. But MTN believing “there are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine,” MTN is seeking “the appropriate reliefs from court”. Although NCC insisted on having the telco pay the fine by Dec. 31 despite the court action, no payment has been made yet and the South African company has continued expanding its business in Nigeria.

“Nigerians experience a boost in the quality of broadband Internet services,” and data speeds, MTN Nigeria Executive Amina Oyagbola said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. However, she did not disclose terms of the deal with Visafone.

Visafone, which also offer voice services was founded in 2007 by Nigerian entrepreneur Jim Ovia also founder of Zenith Bank Plc.

MTN had about 62.5 million subscribers in Nigeria at the end of September. Visafone, a CDMA  network had over 2 million subscribers at the same period.