MTN Lists On NSE: How The South African Telco Became Second Most Valuable Company In Nigeria

By  |  May 17, 2019

South Africa’s MTN Group, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company, has listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. While being the first telco to list on the NSE Premium Board, MTN Nigeria is now the second most valuable entity on the local stock market.

Whilom Upon A Time

In the scramble for Nigerian customers, MTN took the bull by the horns, launching in the West African country on May 16, 2001. The South African company became the first GSM network to make a call after the globally eulogized Nigerian GSM auction under the auspices of the Nigerian Communications Commission. The company later full began commercial operations, in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, sequentially.

The conglomerate committed USD 285 Mn for one of four GSM licenses in Nigeria in January of 2001. It is reported that an excess of USD 1.8 Bn has gone into the building mobile telecommunications infrastructure.

Since inception, MTN has crosschecked across Nigeria with its services, now serving 223 cities and towns, over 10,000 villages and communities and several highways.

Spanning the 36 states of the country and the FCT, MTN provides network access to many rural settlements, many of which were connected to the world for the first time ever.

Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag

MTN has also done its bit in philanthropy. The company has given back to the community too many times to mention. One of the most significant acts of selflessness was when it, on the backs of its social investment arm, MTN Foundation, took healthcare to different markets in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

MTN Nigeria, who claims to contribute 4.5 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, also donated a world-class ferry terminal to the Lagos state government last year.

In what was a colorful ceremony close to its headquarters in the state, The new Five Cowrie Creek Terminal was built at the site of the former refuse dump near the famous lagoon.

In 2008 alone, MTN spent a total of NGN 419 Mn (USD 1,162,368) on community projects. But even with its charitable efforts, the company has received its fair share of scorching and social media opprobrium.

While there is a sort of love-lust between Nigeria and South with MTN in the middle of things, the telco has paid billions in fine for violation of some Nigerian laws.

Asides disgruntledly paying USD 285 Mn for a Nigerian license and faithfully investing USD 400 Mn in a country that yet reeled off from the seemingly devastating military interregnum – which ended in 1999 – MTN has paid a total of over 5 Bn in taxes and more than USD 5 Bn in fine.

Really Listing Or Just A Formality?

MTN is going public by introduction, not by an Initial Public Offering. Like it did in Ghana September last year, the discrepancy is linked to the company’s long-standing squabble with Nigerian authorities.

MTN wanted an IPO but revised its decisions on the grounds that it wants to “challenge to get a fair valuation” in the wake of lingering disputes with local regulators. According to unconfirmed allegations, MTN still owes about USD 2 Bn in taxes.

The Nigerian stock market experienced a major crash in 2008, fuelling the lack of trust among investors. MTN’s listing, with or without an IPO is good news for NSE which has recorded some unrelenting decline in share index over the past year.

MTN Ghana’s IPO did not deliver the results the company expected. The fundraising was around at USD 237 Mn, significantly short of its USD 745 Mn anticipation.

Well, the IPO was as well one of the criteria put by Ghanaian regulators for it to grant MTN a 4G network license in the country, which happens to be the telcos third-largest base in Africa.

The factors surrounding MTN Nigeria’s listing on NSE are similar that which prevailed in the Ghanaian chapter. The IPO, according to reports, was one of the conditions for the USD 1.7 Bn settlement for the SIM card quarrel between the MTN and local regulators in 2016.

Second Most Valuable

MTN Nigeria opened its share market with the ticket MTNN, but only allowed trading for 16 minutes before the markets were shut down. During this brief window, the company was, however, able to become the second most valuable entity on the stock exchange.

Though it put up its shares for an initial $0.25, the South African firm recorded a 10 percent rise in price. By the end of the 16 minutes, MTN was worth USD 5.54 Bn, a figure beaten only by Aliko Dangote’s Dangote Cement, which boasts of USD 8.3 Bn in valuation.

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