Tuesday 18, September 2018 by Jessica Combes

MTN mulls Uganda listing amid government prodding


MTN Group Ltd. may list its Ugandan unit following government pressure on Africa’s biggest wireless carrier by subscribers to increase local ownership in the East African country.

Selling shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange would follow a listing in Ghana and one planned for Nigeria later this year—both agreed to by the Johannesburg-based company as part of deals with regulators. The Uganda Communications Commission said last month that, while listing wasn’t a precondition for renewing a license that expires in October, the government would prefer more Ugandans to be “part of the company,” according to Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi.

MTN Uganda Ltd. is studying options for “localising” ownership and enabling as many citizens as possible to acquire shares, Chairman Charles Mbire said Monday in an interview in the capital, Kampala. Details on the stake and the listing timetable will be determined once a study on available options is complete, he said.

Talks on the license renewal are “progressing well” and shareholders are hopeful because MTN has fulfilled roll-out obligations and is Uganda’s highest taxpayer, Mbire said. The company, which has a market share of about 55 per cent, is seeking to renew its license for 10 years, according to the regulator.

MTN’s planned Nigerian IPO has been thrown into doubt in recent weeks after the company was hit with more than $10 billion claims by local authorities. The carrier has taken legal action to contest the allegations, which have wiped more than 30 per cent off the share price.

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