MTN Group Ltd.’s six-month battle with Nigerian authorities over payment of a record fine has cost the company its seven-year status as Africa’s highest valued telecommunications operator to rival Vodacom Group Ltd.
MTN’s market capitalization was 244 billion rand ($16.2 billion) at the market close in Johannesburg on Wednesday, trailing Vodacom’s 249 billion rand. This year marks the first time the rankings have been reversed since Vodacom, a unit of Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group Plc, first sold shares in an initial public offering in 2009.
MTN’s shares have declined 31 percent since Oct. 26, when the record $5.2 billion Nigeria fine was made public. While the penalty was later reduced to $3.9 billion, the South African company has yet to agree to a payment. Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa resigned in November, to be replaced on a temporary basis by his predecessor, Phuthuma Nhleko. Vodacom has gained 12 percent in the same period. Read more