Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Dambatta, Monday, affirmed that MTN Nigeria would formally list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in 2018 despite the challenges trailing the decision.
Speaking at a media stakeholders meeting in Lagos, Dambatta, said the listing of the company on the Nigerian bourse was part of the agreement reached with the telecommunications services provider during negotiations for the debt forbearance granted it when it breached laws bordering on deactivation of unregistered sims.
He said, “we reached an agreement with MTN that listing on the NSE was part of the deal. We know they are listing this year but if they don’t, we would also write to remind them. We will not sit down and watch until they are listed. And going forward also, we will ask for their detailed plans for achieving the listing.”
The NCC boss also charged other stakeholders to further find out from the company what the challenges are to ascertain why it is yet to list.
MTN Group, a multi-national telecoms company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was handed down a $5.2 billion fine by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the NCC in 2015. The Commission exercised Section 20(1) of the Telephone Subscribers Regulation (TSR) law on MTN for not meeting the deadline set up by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) for disconnecting the Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM), with improper registration. The compliance audit carried out by NCC on MTN network revealed unregistered 5.2 million customers’ lines were not deactivated. This led to NCC slamming MTN a fine of $1000 for each unregistered SIM, which amounted to $5.2 billion. This was, however, slashed to $3.4 billion in December 2015 after negotiations in addition to other concessions aimed at encouraging the company to continue its operations in Nigeria.
But following delays in getting the listing on the exchange consumated, Nigerian stakeholders became rather apprehensive that the decision to give local investors an opportunity to buy into the company was unnecessarily being delayed with a lot of foot-dragging both on the side of the company and regulators, raising fears the agreement may eventually be dumped.
It was, however, believed that MTN board members which met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the proposed IPO listing on NSE may have come to douse that suspension.
The meeting was part of the company’s strategic sessions in Nigeria to underscore its commitment to the country as well as finalise a partnership with Ecobank Group on the provision of mobile financial services across Africa, according to a source privy to the meetings.
The delegation that visited Osinbajo at Aso Rock Villa included Phuthuma Nhleko, Chairman, MTN Group; Rob Shuter, Group Chief Executive Officer, and Pascal Dozie, Board Chairman, MTN Nigeria.