MTN Nigeria Eyes Local Debt Finance, Sale of Shares to Commence Today


MTN Nigeria is arranging local debt financing and plans to sell shares to new investors through a public offering, after listing its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange today.

Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market with 52.3 million users in 2017, accounts for a third of the South African group’s annual core profit, but it has faced problems in the country in recent years. In December, MTN agreed to make a $53 million payment to resolve a dispute in Nigeria. The move ended a multi-billion-dollar dividend repatriation row, hitting its share prices in Johannesburg.

MTN, owned by South Africa’s MTN Group, has been one of the main beneficiaries of Nigeria’s push to liberalise its economy over the past two decades. But it has come under increased pressure from the government to boost local ownership.

Reuters quoted MTN Group CFO, Ralph Mupita, to have said the listing was an important step towards increasing local ownership in MTN Nigeria and building the country’s equity capital markets. The company also said it was relying on local funding in naira to mitigate exchange rate volatility.

The company also said the Nigerian unit would raise debt, adding that the total level rose 44 per cent to N252 billion in the first quarter.

“This is just the beginning, we still intend to pursue a future public offer giving more Nigerians greater access to the MTN opportunity,” the chief executive of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman said.

MTN decided to list its local company in Nigeria in 2016 after agreeing to pay a $1.7 billion fine to settle a SIM card dispute with the government. Earlier, the company said it planned to list in the first half of 2019.

MTN Nigeria said last week it would list 20.4 billion ordinary shares on the Nigerian stock market.

The company said capital expenditure in the first quarter, rose to N63 billion, the bulk of which went to upgrade its network, up from N18 billion same period last year. Service revenue grew 13.4 per cent to N282 billion in the first quarter, driven by a rise in voice and data income and the addition of 2.1 million mobile subscribers.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a measure of operating profit, reached N150.4 billion in the three months to March 2019, up from N123 billion a year earlier, MTN said.

MTN said it targets a dividend payout ratio of at least 80 per cent of its net income in the medium term.