Uche Usim, Abuja
MTN Nigeria’s journey to becoming a public limited company gained momentum at the weekend, as the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC) has confirmed receipt of an application from the telecom giant requesting registration of its existing securities.
The Head Corporate Communications of SEC, Mrs Efe Ebelo, who made the disclosure in a statement in Abuja, said the company has applied for listing by introduction which will enable it to be listed and to allow shareholders sell their shares on the floor of the exchange.
“Their application is presently receiving attention”, she said. Millions of Nigerians are anxious to see this plan become a reality as MTN is seen as a very successful firm that guarantees good returns on investment.
Before now, MTN Nigeria had assured its customers and the investing public that it will list on the Nigeria Stock Exchange by way of introduction in the first half of 2019.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Mr Rob Shuter, disclosed this at the MTN Group investor update conference call held earlier in the year.
According to him; “We have decided though to pursue the listing by means of a listing by introduction. It is phase one,” he said.
Shuter explained that the move would enable the company get listed easily, adding that findings showed that the free float in the Nigerian market would be about 35 per cent. Transcript of the call showed that once phase one was wrapped up by the first half of 2019, the shares would be open to Nigerian investors as part of the second phase of the listing.
“It means that we will list the company in the initial phases without any public offer or sell-down or initial public offering. I think this will enable us to get the company listed whilst the market still digests the implications of what has happened over the last few months,” Shuter said.
He added, “We will in phase two be doing a project to increase the Nigerian participation in MTN Nigeria, targeting more a free float of around 35 per cent than the free float we have today which is around 20 per cent. So, we aim to conclude at least the listing by introduction in the first half of 2019, pretty much as soon as we can, and then subject to market conditions, appetite and demand we would in phase two do the sell-down.
Industry experts say that method would enable the company determine the fair value of its stocks before an IPO.
They added that the telecoms company had sold some shares in the country through a special purpose vehicle, which might be converted to MTN Nigeria shares at the NSE.
The Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Stockbrokers, Mr Rotimi Fakayejo, said this meant MTN Nigerian would approach the NSE with its existing shareholders and gradually introduce the shares to the public.
On how listing by introduction works, he said, “They may likely be mandated to sell on the first day of listing and then they can start selling gradually to interested investors. They might now decide to do offer for sale, which is selling from existing shareholders to the public; they may be able to achieve the required float in the market in order for them to accelerate the process of getting listed.”