MTN Group Ltd., the wireless carrier facing a combined $10 billion in claims from authorities in Nigeria, said it may no longer seek to raise capital through an initial public offering on the country’s stock exchange.
Africa’s largest mobile carrier is reconsidering the IPO amid a dispute with authorities in its biggest market that wiped more than a third off the company’s market value over three weeks. MTN pledged to list the shares after being fined $1 billion for not disconnecting SIM cards two years ago.
MTN is looking at other ways to trade the stock in Lagos, including a so-called introduction, in which existing shares are listed, Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said in an interview in Johannesburg. MTN’s board still needs to make a final decision, he said. MTN’s Nigerian shares already trade over the counter.
“The IPO type of listing has become challenging under current market conditions,” Mupita said. “We are exploring other options. The Nigerian business would not get fair value under current market conditions.” A listing by introduction is the simplest way forward, he said.
MTN could complete the listing by the end of this year or first quarter of 2019, the CFO said. Despite the dispute with the central bank over the repatriation of $8.1 billion out of Nigeria and a separate tussle over $2 billion in back taxes, MTN is committed to a listing, said Mupita.
“We have sought legal protection for our Nigerian business and a judge has been appointed for upcoming hearings,” Mupita said. The central bank last week said it is considering new information provided by MTN and four banks into the outflows and that it expects to resolve the matter soon.
MTN’s shares pared an earlier gain of as much as 3.7 percent to close 2.1 percent higher at 89.40 rand in Johannesburg on Monday. In the weeks after Nigerian authorities challenged the transfer of funds, MTN plunged 35 percent, but the stock has since recovered about half of that drop. “That cost our shareholders $5.5 billion,” said Mupita. MTN’s investor base is about 44 percent South African. Other major shareholders are based in the U.S., the U.K., Europe and the Middle East.
MTN still sees a great business case for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, with less than a third of users currently on the internet, Mupita said.
“We are engaging with authorities and investors and hope to reach a speedy resolution on the matter, to deal with the overhang on our share and the concerns of shareholders about Nigeria’s investment climate for foreign companies,” Mupita said.
Nigerian authorities have come under criticism following an impasse with MTN and lenders including Citigroup Inc., Standard Chartered Plc, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Lagos-based Diamond Bank Plc that threatened to spook investors.
“Investors are getting very nervous and the last thing Nigeria needs is for investors to be nervous," said Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer of Financial Derivatives Co., speaking from Lagos. The government should resolve the issue with MTN “as quickly as possible.”
Botswana retailer Choppies is expanding to Ongata Rongai, taking over the space previously occupied by Uchumi Supermarkets.
Choppies will be joining Tuskys, Tumaini and Cleanshelf in the race to capture the populous Rongai as part of its Kenya expansion plan.
In its second half for 2017 results, the retailer indicated that it would invest Sh237 million ($2.27 million) on new Kenyan stores.
Uchumi’s branch in the town was shut down following a Sh21 million ($207,990) default on rent.
Choppies also opened a new store in at South Field Mall in Embakasi, Nairobi and plans another in Kiambu Mall, on the outskirts of the capital city, taking up space that was previously meant for Nakumatt.
The retailer has also put up ‘coming soon’ signs in Nanyuki as it eyes the space that hosted Nakumatt, before the latter was evicted from Cedar Mall.
Choppies’ move to replace Uchumi replicates similar actions by Naivas, Carrefour and Tuskys who have stepped in to occupy spaces from which the financially-strapped retail chains Nakumatt and Uchumi have been kicked out.
The spirited entry into Kenya by multinational chain stores is stiffening competition, pitting new players against the local family-owned retailers.
The South Africa and Botswana-Choppies in March last year said it would spend $2.5 million (about Sh250 million) in refurbishing the eight branches of Ukwala Supermarkets, which it took over in December 2016.
It currently has 12 stores in Kenya.
One time leader Nakumatt, now in administration, and cash-strapped Uchumi, have shut several of their branches in Nairobi while Tusky’s, with 63 stores, recently shut its Sheikh Karume branch in Nairobi.
Naivas has 45 outlets.
Choppies managed to enter the Kenyan market through acquisition of Ukwala Supermarkets in 2016 after a Sh946 million ($9.4m) claim by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had earlier halted the deal.
Credit: Nation Media Group
As Namibia focus on land conference from the 1st to the 5th of October, a report from the Namibia Land Statistics states that 70% of land is owned by Whites. The conference is set to address land policies and how the process of restitution and reclamation can be expedited.
The history of Southern Africa is replete with white settlers seizing land from the indigenous owners of the land; Africans, who were pushed to arid areas and confined in their movement. In South Africa, Zimbabwe, and now Namibia, the land question has been a major talking point, with calls and campaigns that the land should be returned to the original Black owners.
In a 48 page report titled Namibia Land Statistics the Namibia Statistics Agency announced that 70 per cent of arable land is owned by white farmers in Namibia. Despite gaining independence nearly 30 years ago, a huge population of indigenous Namibians still don’t own the land. A similar case applies to South Africa where 72 per cent of the land is owned by Whites.
As at independence, in 1990, Namibia had adopted the willing buyer-willing seller policy. The White minority which was less than 0.5 per cent owned nearly all the commercial land. The black population lived on communal land. With the government seeking to transfer 15 million hectares of farming land to Blacks by 2020, the process has been seen as a little slow. According to the Namibian Agriculture Union, only 27 per cent of the land was distributed in 2015. The land situation in South Africa is also precarious, and it influences the conversation in Namibia.
Black people make up 80 per cent of Namibia’s population, but the land is not equitably distributed. In recent times, the issue of land expropriation has crossed the South African borders and found root in Namibia. The quest for land reform has been premised on the national resettlement policy which deals with the redistribution of agricultural land to disadvantaged and landless Namibians. The country’s Ministry of Land is targeting to acquire 10 million hectares of land in the next two years.
Namibia was once a German colony from 1884 to 1915 and is still undergoing a slow process of decolonization. Unlike its neighbour South Africa that’s set on taking radical land reforms led by the voice of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Namibia’s President Hage Geingob has called for calm. He said, “It is true that they came and stole the land 100 years ago, but a white boy who was born on that land has Namibian blood.”
As Namibians seek to address the issue of land, a national land conference is set to take place from the 1st to the 5th of October, 2018. The conference is set to address land policies and how the process of restitution and reclamation can be expedited.