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MTN’s listing’ll go ahead despite current row with AGF on taxes —CEO

MTN’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ferdinand Moolman has ruled out chances of current legal tussles with the Federal Government frustrating its plan to list and launch its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) before the end of this year.
Giving further explanations in Lagos before select media executives, said “The initial listing will happen despite MTN’s current row with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami”.
Recall that earlier in September last year, the AGF had slammed the company with $2billion in outstanding taxes for 10 years.
Moolman was quick to reveal that Nigerians already owned 20 per cent of MTN shares, which are not publicly traded, but were sold through over-the-counter (OTC), and other investment schemes. He assured that with the listing will usher in more indigenous investors.
However, he revealed that while the network was not under any pressure from the understanding reached with the Nigerian government while slashing down one of the sanctions slammed on it, emerging listing will be executed in two phases for better value.
He said the entire process will commence at the end of the second quarter or at the latest early third quarter.
He made it clear that “The phased listing, which will not be as big and extensive as initially anticipated, is to enable the network operator to get better value for its shares, while resolving other outstanding issues with the Federal Government”.
Moolman averred that “MTN has always been very serious about listing. There was a lot of work that we did on the listing and our thought was to list in 2018.
“We needed to change to a public company because we are a private company at the moment before we can list. We need to send our directors to training for compliance with SEC requirements. So a lot of work had happened to prepare for the listing. Then the CBN issue happened.”
It would recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in August last year, ordered MTN to refund to its coffers the sum of $8.1billion allegedly repatriated illegally, which was later settled out of court, with the payment of $52.6million in fines by the network operator.
In 2016, the Stock Exchange had soared on getting the wind of possible listing of the telecom giant but got hanged up in excitement.
However, MTN boss was quick to reassure that MTN’s good performance and balance sheet in 2018 will further boost investors’ appetite for its shares at the point of IPO issue.
He said “There is a lot of value we can bring to this market; and we anticipate to do it in two phases – the first phase will be to list and then start trading in our shares and then lifting it for bigger participation.”
The company had moved to raise up to $500million from the failed 2016 IPO, but constant postponement of the offer had damped investors’ appetite for the investment, which is anticipated to be the biggest ever in Nigeria.
MTN Nigeria in its recently released 2018 financials presented over N1.037trillion in revenue about 17 per cent growth year-on-year which analysts say is powered by contributions from its Voice, Data, Fintech, and Digital platforms riding on a capital investment of over N2.5trillion in the network within the period under review.