MTN Group Limited said it would not back down from its plan to offload 15% of its shareholding in MTN Nigeria to indigenous investors even if this meant resorting to executing the partial divestment in smaller chunks than originally conceived amidst the disruption of stock market activities by COVID-19.
Africa’s biggest wireless operator holds 79% stake in its subsidiary operations in Nigeria, where it made one third of its income and nearly 40% of profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation last year.
Ralph Mupita, the carrier’s Chief Financial Officer, said the reverberations of the coronavirus outbreak in the international financial markets did not diminish the imperative of selling part of MTN’stake in an interview with Bloomberg.
“In Nigeria, we still want to do part of our retail offer, even if it’s a smaller part of the total planned sale. We are applying our minds to doing this at the moment.”
The telco, currently Nigeria’s second biggest publicly quoted company by market capitalisation, is offloading part of its shares in its Nigerian operations after frequently coming head-to-head with the Nigerian Government over tax evasion and regulatory bottlenecks with potential fines coming to about $15 billion in just five years.
Since debuting on the Nigerian Stock Exchange last May, MTNN stock has been at the mercy of negative market sentiments, slumping to its listing price of N90 yesterday after almost eleven months of listing.
MTN hopes data usage will ramp up across different markets on the account of COVID-19-induced lockdown in most countries where it operates.