MTN has commenced talks with the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding an initial public offering in 2017.
The operator group has suggested the possibility of issuing shares in three separate tiers. SEC director general Mounir Gwarzo confirmed that it would back an IPO as long as MTN abides by local laws and safeguards the interests of retail investors.
While MTN has not yet submitted a formal application for an IPO, the offering would form part of a deal with the government and would need to conform to market conditions. The operator has appointed Stanbic IBTC Capital, Standard Bank of South Africa, Standard Advisory London and Citigroup Global Markets as its transaction advisors and global coordinators.
The move follows on from the resolution of a dispute between MTN and the Nigerian government over a colossal fine which the operator incurred for failing to comply with security regulation. After the row was resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, MTN confirmed that it would “take immediate steps” towards listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, adding that it would “always ensure full compliance with its licence terms and conditions”.
A parliamentary investigation into MTN Nigeria’s affairs over the past 10 years is attempting to ascertain whether the operator unlawfully repatriated funds of $14 billion – a claim which the firm “continues to refute”.