MTN Investment: South African pension fund increases stake by 24%

A South African state-owned pension fund has raised its stake in mobile phone operator MTN Group to 23.6 per cent, regulatory filings showed on Wednesday.

This is a bet on the company in the middle of 10.1 billion dollars dispute with Nigeria.

The Public Investment Corporation had a stake of around 15 per cent in the company before the transaction.

The corporation has more than two trillion rand (143.22 billion dollars) of South African government civil servants’ pensions under its custody.

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 per cent since then. By 1220 GMT the shares were trading slightly higher at 88.32 rand.