A meeting scheduled to hold today between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, the four banks accused of facilitating fund transfers for MTN Nigeria, has been postponed indefinitely.
Sources say a settlement between the CBN and MTN Group Ltd., over an order to repay $8.1 billion it is alleged to have illegally taken out of the country, may come as soon as Monday.
An end to the dispute would come as a relief for MTN, Africa’s largest wireless carrier by subscribers.
The Johannesburg-based company has lost almost a fifth of its market value since Nigerian authorities said in late August that it needed to repay the $8.1 billion.
MTN and the four banks, which have been fined $16 million between them, deny any wrongdoing. However, the company is also facing a claim that it owes $2 billion in back taxes in Nigeria, its biggest market.
Recently the Nigerian finance minister told a large conference in Abuja that the crisis has been damaging to Nigeria after it became obvious that investors around the world had taken a dim view of Nigeria’s handling of the matter.
Nigeria’s hopes to raise an additional $2.5bn in Eurobond before the end of the year and it is now believed that apart from the impact of the up-coming elections in Nigeria, the bungling by the government of the MTN matter will mean that Africa’s largest economy will pay a higher price for the bond as investors demand a higher premium for the risk in betting on Nigeria.
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