Leadership Abuja Olushola Bello
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

MTN Nigeria has started talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on a possible initial public offering and how it wanted to structure the share sale.

The director-general of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, made this known in an interview with Reuters.

Reuters quoted Gwarzo as saying, « MTN had discussed the possibility of issuing various classes of shares to targeted investor groups, » adding that the telecom firm was looking at three different classes, which would be new in Nigeria.

Gwarzo said the commission was willing to support the share sale as long as it was within local laws and advised the telecom firm to ensure retail investors were protected.

MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria with 57 million subscribers, and the country accounts for about a third of its revenue.

The MTN Group has said it aims at listing its Nigerian unit in 2017, subject to market conditions, part of an agreement with the Nigerian government.

In June, the telecom firm said it would list its local unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after agreeing to pay a reduced fine of $1.7 billion in a settlement with the Nigerian government over unregistered SIM cards.

Gwarzo said the company was yet to submit a formal application for the share sale.

MTN Nigeria has appointed Stanbic IBTC Capital, Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Advisory, London, and Citigroup Global Markets as joint transaction advisors and global coordinators, with Stanbic acting as lead issuer.

Stock market operators have said the move by the telecommunications giant will follow another move by government to ensure all international firms operating in Nigeria are listed on the stock exchange since most international companies in the country are hesitant to operate outside of the Exchange.

They also noted that the proposed coming of the MTN on the stock exchange will not only boost the market but also improve the financial welfare of would-be shareholders.