ABN - South African mobile phone operator MTN Group (JSE:MTN) has posted annual losses of US$108 million for 2016, largely due to a large regulatory fine in Nigeria and generally weak macroeconomics across the continent.
This swing into the red represents the company’s first annual loss in two decades, after a prolonged legal dispute over missing a deadline to cut off unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria resulted in a $1.1 billion fine.
MTN said the fine wiped $768 million from its headline earnings, South Africa's main measure of profit.
In a statement MTN said: "[2016 was] the most challenging year in the company's 22-year history, precipitated by a number of material regulatory, macro-economic and political challenges experienced across our regions."
Nigeria remains one of MTN’s biggest markets in Africa, but is becoming increasingly problematic for the continents biggest mobile phone operator group.
The company is also under investigation by Nigerian lawmakers for allegedly illegally repatriating $14 billion between 2006 and 2016.