MTN Nigeria valued at $5bn ahead of Lagos listing

By Renee Bonorchis

(Bloomberg) – MTN Group Ltd. will list its Nigeria unit in Lagos on Thursday in a move that will value the pan-African wireless carrier’s largest business at 1.8trn naira ($5bn).

The move is a step toward a partial sell down of the carrier’s majority 79% stake, and was agreed to as part of the settlement of a $1bn regulatory fine three years ago. MTN Nigeria is the market leader in Africa’s most populous country, with about 60 million customers at the end of last year.

The price of MTN Nigeria’s shares were set at 90 naira a share, determined by referencing private sale transactions by shareholders over the past 180 business days. The true valuation of the business is uncertain due to an ongoing dispute with Nigeria’s Attorney General over a claim for $2bn in back taxes, MTN said.

MTN has been under pressure from governments and regulators in some of its 17 African markets to transfer a greater share of its business to local investors. The company held an initial public offering of its Ghana operation last year – that country’s biggest – and is under pressure to prepare something similar in Uganda.

“The listing of MTN Nigeria deepens the equity capital markets base of the country, which makes it possible to broaden the shareholding base of MTN Nigeria over time,” the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.

MTN’s shares rose 0.7% as of 11:37am in Johannesburg, valuing the company at R187bn ($13bn).