Bharti Airtel may get listed on Nigerian Stock Exchange before MTN Nigeria

There are strong indications that leading Indian player in the nation’s telecoms industry, Airtel may hit the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for listing earlier than MTN Nigeria.

This emerged from the discovery that parent company of the group, Bharti Airtel International (BAIN) is strongly considering an international listing of its operations in 14 African countries, including Nigeria.

There had been speculations that MTN is close to raising about $1 billion through its proposed listing on the Nigeria and Ghana stock exchanges later in the year.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Kofi Yamoah, said MTN Ghana would officially introduce 35 per cent of its capital into the GSE by the end of first quarter (Q1) 2018.

He said MTN Ghana has submitted the necessary documents for review, adding: “We believe that at the end of the first quarter, we will see the public offering of this entity take off.”

It would be recalled that Ghana MTN was supposed to list in 2017, but the process was delayed. The decision to list on the GSE was reached as a condition for the acquisition of a 15-year $67m 4G license in 2015.

Business Hilights gathered that the new Airtel’s investment drive is being taken by the company to revamp its operations in Africa to ensure their viability.

The development was confirmed by the company which is investigating a potential initial public offer (IPO) of its African business.

Bharti Airtel said it would soon begin non-binding discussions with banks and intermediaries in countries in Africa, including Nigeria, which has its strongest backbone in African operations.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Airtel Chairman, Bharti Airtel is mulling the international listing option for its African business to find succour for its stagnant revenue base.

Statistics show that Airtel currently which recently bought over a telecom company in Senegal runs wireless and mobile money services in 14 countries across Africa, including Nigeria.

The group said in a regulatory filing that it would initiate non-binding exploratory discussions with various banks and intermediaries to evaluate the feasibility of listing its shares on an internationally recognised stock exchange.

Industry pundits who have been weighing the snail speed of MTN Nigeria in listing at the Exchange since last, argued that the observed postponement of the deal may not be unconnected with the pressure which the unregistered SIM Card deactivation fine in 2015 is putting on the finances of the company.

It would be recalled that company, had last year scaled down some of its activities as a way of remaining in shape to bear the brunt of the fine which it is yet to complete paying.

The fine had been segmented and spread over time to avoid pulling down the company from a time full payment of the multibillion naira fine.

Last week, MTN Ghana announced that it would be listing 35% of its shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), with the selection of a local brokerage, IC Securities Ghana, as its main sponsor for the initial public offering (IPO).

This step is being taken by MTN in Ghana as MTN Nigeria concludes plans to go public by second quarter of this year at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Currently, though strategic indices at NSE are looking good, there are fears that several portfolio investors may exit the Exchange in fear of election year shocks and analysts say the possible drop in foreign investment injections may weaken the market towards the end of the year pending the state of the nation after 2019 elections.

However, the NSE remains the second largest exchange on the continent and third best in global performance in 2017 by returning 41.30 percent year-to-date (YTD) return as of the last closing day of the year.

It came behind Argentina’s Buenos Aires Stock Exchange Merval Index (+77.2% year-to date), and Turkey’s Borsa Istanbul.

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