Did MTN just drop hint of an impending IPO in Nigeria?

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MTN Nigeria’s planned listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)may open a new chapter in the Nigerian capital market. Nigeria and Africa’s largest GSM network revealed that its planned listing in Nigeria will be one of the largest ever seen on the African continent.

MTN’s Deputy Head of Mergers and Acquisitions Kholekile Ndamese disclosed this at a courtesy visit to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. The part that however interest Nairametrics was how the company plans to list.

“We will like to do the transaction process through digital form to enable Nigerian people apply online in a manner that will be safe. It will be the first in Africa to use the digital format unlike paper process used in other African countries” Ndamese

The quote above has got some of our analysts wondering if MTN is planning to raise money in the stock market in addition to the list. This might sound way off the market, but a further read of his comments above is indicative of such. The words “transaction process”,apply online” suggest this could be more than just a listing.

What is a listing

A listing of the shares of company simply implies that the company has decided to float all or part of its outstanding shares in the stock market for the public to buy and existing shareholders to sell. By listing your shares on the floor of a stock exchange you are basically providing an exit for existing shareholders to sell stocks that are held privately. For MTN that is already quoted, listing on the Nigerian stock exchange gives the stock more liquidity and exposes it to another market where its shares can be sold. In Nigeria, its shares are not tradeable as it exists as a private company. It also gives the company an opportunity to raise further capital if it wants to.

Is this a public offer?

We won’t be surprised if MTN will list its Nigerian Subsidiary alongside an initial public offer. Since, it is only listing its Nigerian Subsidiary it may have to issue new shares as well as sell existing shares to Nigerians to raise equity for the company and provides its South African shareholders an opportunity to sell down their equity stake in Nigeria. Some worried investors back in South Africa are already suggesting that the parent company reduces its exposure to Nigeria especially after the disaster that was the MTN fine. It is also not unlikely that it could use some of the funds raised to pay down some of its Nigerian fines.

Why go digital

Going digital, reduces the cost of the offer, as the company and its brokers will not need to spend money printing paper forms for the prospectus and subscription. The cost of the listing forms a percentage of the fees that will be charged by underwriters to MTN. Going digital also gives every investor equal access to the shares. Prior to this, smaller investors tend to get few shares as stockbrokers prefer dealing with bigger clients. Sometimes, the brokers prefer to keep such offers for their own personal accounts. Going digital also increases the transparency surrounding the listing, as the usual issues of delay in allotment or returned funds if unsuccessful will not crop up.

Other foreign companies that have dual listings

MTN will not be the only Nigerian company with a dual/multiple listing of its shares. The likes of Nestle, Mobil, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, PZ Cussons, Cadbury, Guinness, Nigerian Breweries are examples of foreign majority owned company that are listed in Nigeria and in several other countries. We also have home-grown companies such as Seplat & Oando (before delisting from Canada two years ago) as Nigerian companies that also have dual listing of its shares. MTN’s listing adds it to a small group of companies that have dual listing on the NSE and other exchanges.

Oando Plc in 2005, also listed on both the NSE and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Seplat, an upstream oil producer was dually listed on both the NSE and London Stock Exchange (LSE) in April 2014. The listing also creates the opportunity for early stage Nigerian investors to sell their shares in the company. Listing will also boost the visibility of the Nigerian bourse and increase the market capitalization.

As part of the conditions of a N330 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to deactivate improperly registered sims, MTN was required to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). MTN group was founded in South Africa in 1994 and currently operates in 22 countries. MTN Nigeria was founded in 2001 and currently has over 60 million subscribers making it the largest telecoms operator in the country.

 

 

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