Bloomberg News

S. Africa to Probe Threats Against MTN, SacOil Nigeria Holdings

February 05, 2012

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation will investigate threats against South African companies with investments in Nigeria by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

The movement, known as MEND, has threatened to attack the holdings of companies including MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest cell phone operator, and SacOil Holding Ltd., an oil and gas exploration company, saying South African President Jacob Zuma is interfering “in the legitimate fight for justice” in the Niger River delta region. MEND yesterday said it attacked and damaged a pipeline belonging to a unit of Eni SpA of Italy.

“It’s a matter we’ll look into definitely; terrorism has to be rooted out,” Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said by mobile phone today. “The authorities in Nigeria have always been responsive to acts that are unlawful and will deal with this as they always have dealt with such threats.”

MTN is leaving security matters to the Nigerian and South African authorities and has no further comment, Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based company, said in an e- mailed response to Bloomberg. On Jan. 4 the company announced plans to spend more than $1 billion this year to improve its network in Nigeria after the nation’s phone regulator demanded better service.

Shares in MTN have dropped 5.5 percent since Jan. 3 after Nigeria’s government removed fuel subsidies, cutting consumer spending power in the company’s largest market, and after saying Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile phone company, may sue MTN over the acquisition of an operating license in Iran.

--Editors: Kristen Hallam, Andrew J. Barden

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gunnion in Johannesburg at sgunnion@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net; Dick Schumacher at dschumacher@bloomberg.net


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