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Telcom giant's interim chairman to stay until NCC fine issue resolved

Nhleko took temporary charge of Africa's biggest mobile phone networks operator in November after Sifiso Dabengwa resigned as chief executive officer

MTN Group's interim executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko,  file.  REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby

Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group's interim executive chairman will stay on in his role as he continues to try and settle the dispute with Nigeria over a $3.9 billion fine imposed on the South African-based telecoms company, its spokesman said yesterday.

Nhleko took temporary charge of Africa's biggest mobile phone networks operator in November after Sifiso Dabengwa resigned as chief executive officer over the penalty imposed on the Nigerian arm of the company by Nigerian regulators.

"He will stay on until he fulfils his mandate," Chris Maroleng said, according to a Nigeria CommunicationsWeek report.

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Nhleko's six-month contract expires this week after being hired to resolve the dispute and find a new CEO for the company he led for nine years before stepping down in 2011.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) fined MTN Nigeria last year for failing to disconnect users of unregistered SIM cards from its network, with the total fine originally totaling  $5.9 billion on the basis of charging $1,000 for each unregistered SIM card remaining connected.

Nigeria, which is MTN's biggest market, has been pushing telecom firms to verify the identity of subscribers amid worries that unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country still battling with Islamic militant group Boko Haram and now, South-South based Niger Delta Avengers.

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