Some financial experts have warned that the postponement of the listing of MTN shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will slow down the listing of other multinationals being wooed by the bourse.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the Federal Government must do everything possible within its powers to ensure the listing of the company’s shares on the NSE in 2017.
The operators spoke against the backdrop of a statement by the MTN Group Ltd that it may put off plans to list its Nigerian operation until 2018, as it strived to resolve a regulatory dispute.
Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Officer, was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the listing may be within the 12 to 18-month period.
NAN reports that MTN Nigeria in June 2016, said that it would list its shares on the nation’s bourse in 2017, after being fined for breaching the know-your-customer rules set by the National Communications Commission (NCC).
Dr Uche Uwaleke, Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi stated that government should provide further fiscal incentives, in addition to the reduced charges for MTN.
Uwaleke said that putting off the planned listing till 2018 would not mean well for the stock market as other companies that may be considering a similar move could also put such plans on hold.
“If MTN did not push ahead with the plan, other telecom firms like Etisalat and Airtel, including firms in the Oil and Power sectors, currently being wooed by the NSE may develop cold feet.
“They can equally cite the same unfavorable economic conditions as their reason.
“This will not augur well for the stock market. Currently, the market lacks depth and is over-concentrated with just about four companies accounting for over 60 per cent of the equities’ market capitalisation.
So, the presence of MTN and these other companies will help to deepen the market and make it more attractive to local and foreign investors,’’ he added.
Uwaleke said that the company’s plan to list was part of its understanding with the Federal Government over the huge fine imposed on it.
“MTN in 2016 had make known its plan to list on the NSE as part of an understanding it had with the federal government over a huge fine imposed on the company.
“The development led to the fine being slashed considerably by the government.
“The telecom giant had provided a caveat to the effect that whether or not it lists in 2017 would depend on market conditions.
“With the economy still in the woods, illegal charges and legal hurdles to grapple with, the company appears disposed to invoke the caveat as justification for putting off the planned listing till 2018,” Uwaleke said.
He noted that government should spare no effort to get MTN to list on the NSE in 2017, even if it entailed providing further fiscal incentives, in addition to the reduced fine.
Similarly, Malam Garba Kurfi, the Chief Executive Officer, APT Funds and Securities Ltd, said that Nigeria must not scare MTN away from the country with huge fines.
Kurfi said that the listing of MTN shares would attract other big companies to the exchange and at the same time deepen the depth of the market.
He stated that government should work toward listing all its privatised entities on the NSE, to boost activities and increase the number of tradable products. (NAN)