Telecoms operator, MTN Group Limited, is planning to raise about N153billion ($500m) from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of this year.
Standard Bank Group Limited and Citigroup Incorporated have been advising the Africa’s largest mobile phone company on the disposal of as much as 30 per cent of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
A source close to the company pleading anonymity as the details of the listing had not been made public, said most of the shares would be sold to local institutions and individuals, though foreign investors could be brought in to ensure the process is a transparent, adding that discussions were ongoing.
MTN agreed to list the Nigerian unit as part of a June 2016 agreement to pay a $1billion fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown. The penalty, originally set at $5.2billion, led to the resignation of the Johannesburg-based company’s then chief executive officer and a slump in the share price that’s yet to be clawed back.
The source said if successful, the share sale will be the biggest on the NSE after Starcomms Plc, which raised $796million when it listed in 2008.
MTN, Nigeria’s biggest mobile phone company with just over 50 million subscribers as of end September, slumped to a loss in 2016 as it absorbed the financial impact of the fine, though it said last month that it returned to profit the following year.
Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African governments are trying to gain more from international mobile phone operators, taking advantage of rising Smartphone use and faster datum speed. MTN has also agreed to sell shares in Ghana as one of the conditions of a deal to gain spectrum rights, while Vodacom Group Limited, South Africa’s market leader, was ordered to list 25 per cent of its Tanzanian business last year, raising $213million.
However, a top official of the Securities and Exchange Commission had recently said that the commission had yet to receive any document from MTN indicating an interest to list.
The official said the department concerned with new listings on the local bourse was not in possession of any document showing that MTN had a listing programme on the NSE.
The Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema, in mid-January this year, said that the Exchange would not comment on the planned listing of MTN as it was not in the right position to speak for the telco. “MTN has to tell its own story, and not us doing so for it,” Onyema stated.