The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has urged MTN Nigeria to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, describing it as important for the company.
MTN, which is Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, had said it aimed to list its Nigerian unit on the local bourse but has given no date.
“I want to appeal to you that you do the utmost and do the needful to ensure that you get onto the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” Shittu told MTN executives at a company event.
Recently, there were indications that the MTN Group Limited might put off plans to list its Nigerian operation until 2018 as the telco was working to resolve a regulatory dispute.
“It’s a work in progress and hopefully within the 12 to 18 month period, we will be able to do it,’’ MTN Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Officer, Phuthuma Nhleko, had said at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
He was quoted as saying, “Regulatory issues need to be resolved, and the macro conditions need to have improved.”
MTN agreed to list the unit in Nigeria as part of the settlement of a N330bn ($1bn) fine imposed by the government for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers. It said in July that the listing would take place in 2017, subject to market conditions. Since then, a senator’s allegations that it moved $14bn out of the country had threatened to delay the process.
“We’ve always intended to list – we have reaffirmed that with the government,” said Nhleko, who will revert to his previous role as non-executive chairman when the new Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shuter, arrives in March. “Clearly, we can only list when the conditions are conducive,” he added.
MTN shares have lost more than a third of their value since the fine was handed down in October 2015, and the company has overhauled its management and toughened up its approach to regulators as a result.
The wireless operator had about 235 million customers across 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East as of end September.
In July, MTN appointed units of Citigroup and Standard Bank to advise it on the Nigeria listing.
MTN Group had said it expected to report a full-year loss due to a $1bn regulatory fine in Nigeria and for under-performance both in Nigeria and South Africa.
It said the net effect of the Nigerian fine for the year ended December was a negative impact of 474 cents per share.
MTN is expected to issue a further trading statement on the likely range within which its headline loss is expected.
Underlying operational results for full-year 2016 were also affected by fees incurred for a planned listing in Nigeria.
The result also showed MTN under-performance of its units, both in Nigeria and South Africa in the first half of 2016.