Will the MTN IPO in Nigeria go ahead? Or could it be scuppered due to an ongoing row with government about allegedly unpaid tax and money the authorities claim was illegally taken out of the country?
The South Africa-headquartered mobile comms giant has a big presence in Nigeria; it is MTN’s second largest market after South Africa and contributes a large chunk of overall group revenue. However, meeting the government’s demands could mean the loss of a cool $10 billion.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Group CFO Ralph Mupita has now suggested that the operator is considering scrapping IPO plans in Nigeria. It seems that going to market with $10 billion-worth of demands hanging over the company could affect the valuation process. As if to prove his point, after the two latest demands shares in MTN listed in South Africa plummeted by a third.
If they are met, this wouldn't be the first time that Nigerian government demands had cost MTN money. MTN made a cash settlement in 2016 of a previous fine levied by Nigerian authorities for failing to register the details of 5.1 million subscribers.
Nevertheless the IPO has been a stated intention of the company since 2016, albeit there seems to have been no formal application made.