South African state pension fund raises stake in MTN to 23.6 pct

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JOHANNESBURG – A South African state-owned pension fund has raised its stake in mobile phone operator MTN Group to nearly 24 percent, regulatory filings showed on Wednesday, a bet on the company in the middle of $10.1 billion dispute with Nigeria.

The Public Investment Corporation, which has more than 2 trillion rand ($143.22 billion) of South African government civil servants’ pensions under its custody, had a stake of around 15 percent in the company before the transaction.

The purchase price was not disclosed but shares in MTN have been battered since it disclosed two separate disputes with Nigerian authorities.

Nigeria’s central bank on Aug. 29 ordered MTN and its lenders to bring $8.1 billion back into Nigeria that it alleges the company sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations. In addition, MTN faces a separate $2 billion tax bill from authorities in Nigeria.

The stock had fallen around 20 percent since then. By 1220 GMT the shares were trading slightly higher at 88.32 rand.

($1 = 13.9641 rand)

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng, editing by Louise Heavens

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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