The Nigerian Stock Exchange's total market capitalisation rose by N1.8trillion to close at N12.5trn yesterday following the final listing of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) on the local bourse.
The telco's 20.35 billion ordinary shares at N90 per share were officially introduced to NSE Premium Board to the jubilation of many dignitaries in attendance.
MTN is the first telecom company to be listed on NSE Premium Board, a listing segment for the elite group of issuers that meet the Exchange's most stringent corporate governance and listing standards.
This Board features Dangote Cement Plc, FBN Holdings Plc, Zenith International Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Lafarge Africa Plc, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc.
Speaking on the listing, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Ferdi Moolman said: " The listing re-affirms the company's long term commitment to the country."
He said 20 percent of MTN shares were already held by Nigerians and their MTN's objective was to gradually push that number to 35 percent.
He however said there is no set date for the Initial Public Offer.
Explaining the delay in the IPO, the Chief Finance Officer, Adekunle Awobodu said: "We had wanted to do the IPO last year but some circumstances hindered it, those circumstances are still there, as the situation improves and market conditions permit, we will have the IPO."
Mr Bolaji Balogun, CEO, Chapel Hill Denhan said: "Chapel Hill acted as a joint financial adviser with Stanbic IBTC Capital in this historic listing and the two houses have basically been responsible for leading this transaction process over the last few months and I'm delighted to get it over the line"
On the impact it would have on the market, he said: "This listing would be very significant firstly because it is adding almost 1.8 trillion Naira to market capitalization. It would be the second largest company by market cap on the exchange and more importantly, it will also bring more of Nigeria's best companies on to the exchange and give a wider group of Nigerians the opportunity to participate in its share-holding.
"There are very few companies in Africa today that generate $1 billion of free cash flow and this is one of those special companies and I'm really pleased we have it on the stock exchange. "
The CEO of the NSE, Oscar Onyeama said the listing "provides an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to be part of the group story."
He emphasized that it also should encourage many other large unlisted companies both within that sector and as well as other sector to start to think about the Nigerian stock market as a place to explore the opportunities to raise capital.
"Nigerians have waited for years for this to happen and we are glad to finally see this long-awaited announcement come alive," Boniface Okezie, representing minority shareholders Association said to Daily Trust.
By listing MTN on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, its shares can now be traded everyday by buyers and sellers.
Until, now this was not possible as its shares were held privately by its investors: they could only be bought and sold in South Africa and until last year's Ghana IPO.
Experts said MTN Nigeria's listing on the NSE would create a new telecoms and technology asset class for investors and provide an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to participate in the MTN investment story.
This listing is a major milestone that deepens Nigeria's equity capital markets while attracting new portfolio investment over time.
From this point, all MTN Nigeria shareholders will be able to freely trade their shares on the NSE.
Commenting on the development, National Council President, NSE, Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo, said, "We are particularly pleased that MTN Nigeria has joined the prestigious club of companies listed on our Premium Board with this landmark transaction, which will differentiate it as a professionally run telecommunications company with high standards, having met The NSE's listing criteria.
A Premium Board listing is a sign of commitment to strong corporate governance, excellence, professionalism, efficiency in service delivery and providing increased returns to shareholders, he said.
"It is our expectation that the MTN Nigeria listing, which is the NSE's 2nd largest, will encourage other telecommunication companies to list their shares on The Exchange, thereby opening the sector up to cheaper, long term capital that will boost innovation and development", he said.
Speaking on the announcement, the MTN Nigeria Chairman, Pascal Dozie, commented: "Today (yesterday) is a major milestone in the evolution of MTN in Nigeria and it is fitting that it takes place 18 years to the day since I made the first call on the MTN network on May 16th 2001. Since our initial investment in 2001, we have worked in partnership with Nigerians to deliver the largest network in Nigeria, with over 60 million people now able to access mobile communications services.
"We employ over 1,600 people and our operations create employment for more than 500,000 Nigerians. Our technology has empowered millions of people and businesses in rural and urban areas. This has driven innovation, expanded market access and enhanced local economic inclusion. I am delighted that we can expand this impact further today, by enabling investors to trade our shares on the NSE."