Contrary to insinuations from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), that it is yet to receive any official signal to list shares on the Nigerian Exchange, the MTN Group has moved to raise about $500 million from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of the year.
The deal, our correspondent gathered was in fulfilling the conditions of a deal struck with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in settling the fine slammed on it over infractions on SIM card registration and disconnection directive.
Before now, Standard Bank Group Limited and Citigroup have been advising Africa’s largest mobile-phone company on the disposal of as much as 30 percent of the Lagos-based unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Bloomberg quoted people who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public.
In a new drive, most of the shares will be sold to local institutions and individuals, though foreign investors could be brought in to ensure the process is a success, one of the people said.
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 data speeds.
MTN has also agreed to sell shares in Ghana as one of the conditions of a deal to gain spectrum rights, while Vodacom Group Ltd., South Africa’s market leader, was ordered to list 25 percent of its Tanzanian business last year, raising $213 million
In Nigeria, discussions are on-going and a final decision hasn’t been made, but a source at NCC said the Commission may be forced to write to remind MTN should it become clear that it has developed cold feet in meeting the listing condition as contained in the fine settlement deal.
MTN had agreed to list the Nigerian unit as part of a June 2016 agreement to pay a $1 billion fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown.
The penalty, originally set at $5.2 billion, 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.