MTN Nigeria hinges $500m IPO  on improved market conditions

MTN Nigeria hinges $500m IPO on improved market conditions

Rob Shuter

The Chief Executive Officer, MTN Group, Rob Shuter has said that the telecommunications firm expects the listing of its Nigerian unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to be done by the end of 2018.

Shuter, according to Reuters, said “we are progressing very well with the Nigerian listing and if market conditions are appropriate, we will conclude that by the end of the year. He declined to provide more details on the process.

MTN agreed to the NSE initial public offering (IPO) as part of the settlement of a $1 billion fine imposed by local regulators in 2015. Africa’s biggest wireless operator by sales incurred the penalty after missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown in the West African country.

Nigeria is the largest of the company’s 22 markets across Africa and the Middle East. The South African telecommunications giant controls 36.4 per cent of the market and by so doing servicing 53.4 million users in the country.

MTN is planning to raise at least $500 million from the sale of shares, people familiar with the preparations for the listing said. The company could dispose of as much as 30 per cent of its Lagos-based unit, the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public, said in February.

MTN is also preparing to list a 35 per cent stake of its local unit in regional neighbour Ghana, part of a deal with the government to use fourth-generation spectrum, a high-speed mobile data service.

“The Ghana IPO is well advanced,” Shuter said, declining to provide details. “We will make the specific announcement of that in accordance with the IPO schedule.”

Meanwhile, during the visit of some MTN directors to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed that MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has so far paid N165 billion out of the N330 billion slammed on it for contravening regulations on SIM management in the country.

A fine of N1.04 trillion was handed MTN for irregular registration of subscribers. However, after prolonged negotiation with both the regulatory agency and the Federal Government, the company had the fine reduced to N330 billion.

The payment of the fine was spread over a period of three years and Danbatta said the company had so far kept to the schedule, making a total deposit of N165 billion as the regulatory agency received a cheque of N55 billion in the last two weeks.

Danbatta said, “I am delighted that you chose to have this strategic meeting in Nigeria. We always try to find pragmatic ways to engage with all operators, including the MTN.

“The National Frequency Management Council has accepted our recommendation that the 700 Megahertz spectrum that was assigned to you by a sister agency, the National Broadcasting Commission, (which has been on hold) should stay with you on condition that you use it for telecommunications services instead of broadcast services.

“Part of the fine was paid in March. Not more than two weeks ago, we received a cheque for N55 billion. So far, MTN has paid more than 50 per cent of the fine. That would translate to N165 billion. The payment they are making is consistent with the terms of agreement we reached with them.”

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