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