South African telecoms firm, MTN, has applied with Nigeria’s securities regulator to list shares in its local unit on the country’s bourse, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday. Nigeria is the biggest market for Africa’s largest telecoms firm, with 52.3 million users in 2017, and accounts for a third of the company’s annual core profit. However, it has proven problematic in recent years.
In 2016 the firm said it would list its local unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after agreeing to pay a reduced fine of $1.7 billion in a settlement with the Nigeria’s government over unregistered SIM cards. It has said it planned to list on the Nigerian bourse in the first half of 2019.
“What they applied for is registration for listing, that is just to convert to a publicly quoted company where, for now, private shareholders can dispose of their shares at the exchange,” said a Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another person with direct knowledge of the matter also said MTN had asked the stock exchange for permission to proceed with a listing of its share.
Last week MTN said it had converted its Nigerian unit into a public company ahead of its planned listing. It said the conversion was a legal requirement to prepare for the listing. The company expects to list the unit without raising money from investors immediately, and has said it would simplify its capital structure before the listing.