26 February 2018

Nigeria: MTN Targets U.S.$1 Billion From Nigeria, Ghana Listings

Telecommunications, giant, MTN plans to raise $1 billion through its proposed listing on the Nigeria and Ghana stock exchanges later in the year.Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Kofi Yamoah, said MTN Ghana would officially introduce 35 per cent of its capital into the GSE by the end of first quarter (Q1) 2018.

He said MTN Ghana has submitted the necessary documents for review, adding: "We believe that at the end of the first quarter, we will see the public offering of this entity take off."

MTN was supposed to list in 2017, but the process was delayed. The decision to list on the GSE was reached as a condition for the acquisition of a 15-year $67m 4G license in 2015.

Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante said: "It's very clear from the license that 35 per cent of MTN should be moved into Ghanaian hands and since we required the license, we have engaged the regulators in the NCA, as well as the Central Bank and also with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

In Nigeria, MTN has set June 2018 deadline for its initial public offer (IPO), which is expected to be the biggest on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).The decision to list on the NSE was reached in June 2016 during negotiations of fine issued MTN after it failed to disconnect unregistered subscribers from its network as directed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market described the move by the telecoms giant to raise $500 million from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of the year as a positive development.They said it would deepen the market and encourage active participation of individual consumers in the company's wealth creation process.

MTN, which controls about 39 per cent market share, currently services about 57 million customers in Nigeria.Capital market analysts, operators and investors are full of expectations that the move was a step towards the firms' overdue listing, which market participants had anticipated in the past few years.The move is to enable the company in fulfilling the terms of a deal struck with the Nigeria, to settle a record fine imposed on it in 2016, over SIM registration default.

Indeed, there have been growing agitations for multinationals in the telecoms, and oil and gas companies to list on the nation's bourse by way of public offer to accommodate members of the investing public.

Analysts have agreed that compelling big corporates that control niche sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially telecoms, oil and gas would significantly raise the stock market capitalisation, currently estimated at over N15 trillion but lower than its peers in other emerging markets.Head, Research and Strategy, Codros Capital Limited, Christian Orajekwe, told The Guardian in a telephone interview that it was a welcome development for the market because MTN has strong values and fundamentals.President, Constant Shareholders Association, Shehu Mikail, said the listing would help deepen the market, while urging other telecom and oil firms to join the league.

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