Helped by its positive Full Year 2018 outcome, MTN Nigeria’s long advertised listing plan on the Nigerian bourse may finally now be fait accompli. But how would it pan out? OKEY ONYENWEAKU investigates
With a record performance of N453.1 billion Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) in its just released 2018 Full Year Report, MTN Nigeria is certainly looking poised to increase its growth trajectory ahead of its projected listing on the Nigerian bourse in the weeks ahead, and going forward, perhaps on aneven more sustainable basis in future.
To its credit, the company achieved this record performance despite the challenges it has had with the Nigerian Government which almost snuffed life out of the giant telecoms firm that doubles as the biggest of its type on the African continent.
Also salutary is the fact that the communications company also attracted an additional six million subscribers to its network in the same year under review.
Revealing news of this, MTN said that the six million subscribers had now brought the total number of subscribers in its network to 58 million, adding that the 2018 EBITDA equally represented a 30.8 per cent profit growth.
Breaking down the numbers, the report revealed that its services revenue increased by 17.2 per cent, data revenue increased by 39.3 per cent, digital revenue decreased by 58.1 per cent and Fintech revenue increased by 32.7 per cent.
It also showed an EBITDA margin increase by 4.5 per cent to a total 43.6 per cent (excluding CBN payment).
The company’s bullish score card is already creating excitement on Marina and Broad streets of Lagos. Many stakeholders believe the company has in fact scored a great point that will play a role in attracting investors to it when it eventually lists this year 2019.
MTN Nigeria saysit will list by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in the first half of 2019.
Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr Ferdi Moolman, expressed confidence that the company was poised to do more in order to serve her customers better.
“This growth was built on our sustained focus on customer centric delivery – ensuring that customers get much more value for their money.
“This included deployment of proactive interventions to improve customer experience, together with enhancement of network quality and coverage, and optimisation of our services portfolio.
“We also enabled an additional eight million people to access the possibilities that the internet provides, bringing our total data subscriber base to 44 million, of which 18.7 million use more than five megabytes per month.
“We are now even better positioned to ensure that everyone can access the benefits of a modern connected life.”
However, analysts have expressed mixed reactions over whether the company can meet its target of listing in June because of so many challenges that do not favour any such listing especially now.
Whereas the Securities and Exchange Commission said MTN was yet to file any listing application with it, market observers argue that they are not feeling any such moves by the company in the air.
‘’MTN has not filed any application with us as I am talking to you’’, said SEC’s spokesperson Mrs. EfeEbelo on Thursday March 7, 2019.
While calls and messages to MTN’s spokesman, FunsoAina, did not receive any responses, a Lagos based market analyst, Mr. NonahAwoh told Business Hallmark that the state of the market will determine whether the telecoms company will go public or not. Mr. Awoh explained there are still huge uncertainties in the market.
‘’There is so much uncertainty out there. Nobody can say with certainty what the market holds this year. The company is also being careful so as to list at the right time and favours it’’, said NonahAwoh.
OlisaEgbunike, a financial analyst argues that there was no obstacle preventing MTN from listing aside economic uncertainty and the rate of oscillation of the naira.
According to him,the company has earned the trust of Nigerians with its consistency. This, he said could encourage it to list its shares on NSE any time soon. ‘’The decision to list its shares depends on the management of the company’’, he concluded. MTN has invested over $18billion in Nigeria and is reported to have paid over $2billion in taxes and levies since it began operations in Nigeria. MTN has also resolved with the CBN on the issue of fine over the CCI transfers
The CBN had ordered MTN and its lenders to bring back $8.1billion it alleged the company had illegally repatriated using improperly issued paper work between 2007 and 2008.
Had MTN listed its shares a few years back and become a member of the prestigious club of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), its shareholders would have been celebrating their fourth or fifth year of being part owners of a big and domineering telecoms company in Africa.
They would also have enjoyed the perks of dividends and capital appreciation therein. But that is yet to materialize. Each time the rumour of the biggest telecom’s company in Nigeria listing spreads, the sound bites reverberate like wild fire beyond the horizons of Broad and Marina streets to the hinterlands of Nigeria. Investors’ appetite usually become wet with optimism to make a kill.
Nevertheless, this time round, there appears to be strong assurance that the big elephant will eventually dance in the arena of (NSE) this year.
“MTN plans to list by introduction on The Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 and is looking to simplify the capital structure ahead of this listing,” MTN had said.
Almost every stakeholder in the capital market appears expectant, though not as excited as they were in the failed, first and second times the speculation about its listing slipped to the public.
“The Company’s listing on the Exchange will create a new telecoms asset class for investors and provide an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to participate in our investment story.
“This will be achieved via a listing by introduction and will be followed by a public offer once market conditions are conducive. Over time, and subject to market conditions, we anticipate that the participation of Nigerians in the ownership of the business will increase from around 20% to 35%.”
Chief Executive officer, NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema had during the World Economic Forum early this year stated that he was optimistic that MTN’s listing would not only catalyse action in the market, but also affect the equities market community positively.
“MTN listing will have a significant positive impact on the market. It will give investors something new and exciting to participate in. It will give their subscribers an opportunity to take an ownership stake in the company, and, therefore, continue to do business with them. we (NSE) continue to engage with them (MTN) and to have conversations around the listing potentials. It is something that they believe they want to do, they’ve publicly stated that they want to do it”.
Now we wait.