South African telecoms firm MTN Group has held discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria to discuss the potential initial public offering (IPO) of its local unit, which is expected to take place during 2017, subject to suitable market conditions. The SEC’s director general, Mounir Gwarzo, told Reuters that MTN had discussed how to structure the share sale, including the possibility of issuing various classes of shares to targeted investor groups. Gwarzo said the commission was willing to support the share sale as long as it was within the parameters of the local laws and advised the telecoms firm to ensure that retail investors were protected, although he confirmed that the company was yet to submit a formal application for the sale.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June this year MTN revealed that, as part of a settlement arrangement with the Nigerian government regarding a NGN330 billion (USD1.7 billion) billion fine, it would take immediate steps to ensure the listing of its shares as soon as commercially and legally possible. MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, was initially fined a total of NGN1.04 trillion in October 2015 for failing to disconnect around 5.1 million incompletely registered subscribers. Although the total was cut to NGN780 billion in December that year, MTN launched legal action against the fine later that month, before withdrawing its lawsuit in February 2016, and later agreeing to pay the federal government a total of NGN330 billion over three years.