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Despite hefty fine, Nigeria renews telecoms giant MTN's license, securing its largest market

FILE- In this Monday April. 22, 2013 file photo, staff of MTN Nigeria work during the launch of mobile number portability in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian authorities have renewed the operating license of the MTN telecommunications group as the company faces a multi-billion dollar fine for failing to comply with regulations in the West African nation. The South African-based MTN Group said on Tuesday Nov. 3, 2015 that the Nigerian Communications Commission extended its operating license to 2021 in Nigeria, its biggest market. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba file)

FILE- In this Monday April. 22, 2013 file photo, staff of MTN Nigeria work during the launch of mobile number portability in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian authorities have renewed the operating license of the MTN telecommunications group as the company faces a multi-billion dollar fine for failing to comply with regulations in the West African nation. The South African-based MTN Group said on Tuesday Nov. 3, 2015 that the Nigerian Communications Commission extended its operating license to 2021 in Nigeria, its biggest market. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba file)  (The Associated Press)

Nigerian authorities are renewing the license of the MTN telecommunications group as the company faces a multibillion-dollar fine in the West African nation.

South African-based MTN Group said Tuesday that the Nigerian Communications Commission is extending its operating license to 2021 at a cost of $94.2 million. Nigeria is by far MTN's biggest market.

Last week, the commission fined MTN $5.2 billion for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered cellphone subscribers, sparking speculation about the company's future in Nigeria.

MTN's share price has dropped sharply and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange halted trade of its shares on Monday until the company assured shareholders that it was negotiating the fine with Nigerian authorities.

Nigerian newspapers report MTN is asking for more time to pay the fine due Nov. 16.