MTN Board Appointments Cause a Stir

Ferdi Moolman
Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman

Obinna Chima

While welcoming last week’s appointments of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II and another Nigerian, Dr Aisha Abdullahi to the Board of the MTN Group as a good development, certain segments of the country have argued that it does not reflect the federal character principle.

Specifically, they stressed that that appointments did not reflect the geographic diversity and balancing of merit principle in the country.

A top official in MTN Nigeria, who pleaded to remain anonymous, disclosed the sentiment shared by some Nigerians in a chat with THISDAY. However, he welcomed the appointments, assuring that more eminent Nigerians could be appointed by the telecom giant, to reflect Nigeria’s market dominance.

Ahead of its planned listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), MTN Nigeria recently completed its conversion from a private company to a public company and became a public liability company (Plc). The conversion to a Plc is a legal requirement to on the NSE.

It was also gathered at the weekend that MTN had applied with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to list its shares on the NSE.

“What they applied for is registration for listing, that is just to convert to a publicly quoted company where, for now, private shareholders can dispose of their shares at the exchange,” a source at SEC Reuters.

Another person with direct knowledge of the matter also said MTN had asked the stock exchange for permission to proceed with a listing of its share

Commenting on the move to list its shares on the NSE, the CEO, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman recently explained: “Our conversion to a Plc is a major step towards listing by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the first half of 2019. It is a reaffirmation of our long-term commitment to expanding investment opportunities for Nigerians, in addition to providing everyday services to them. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the SEC and NSE to take forward the listing process.”

According to Moolman, save for the disagreement MTN Nigeria had with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last year, the company would have gone ahead with its listing plan.

He had explained: “There was a lot of work that we did on the listing and our target was to list in 2018. We are a private company at the moment and we need to change to a public company before we can list.

“We need to send our directors for training to comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nigerian Stock Exchange requirements to be able to list and a lot of work went on at the backend on the listing. Then, the CBN issue happened.

“The truth be told, if we had listed while the CBN issue was on, we would have been negligent. That is because we would have gone to offer our shares to the public when we had an issue at hand with the CBN that was substantial. If I remind you, they (CBN) were talking about $8 billion. “So, I can’t go and list and offer my shares to the public if I have this thing hanging over my neck. We thank God we were able to resolve this on 24th of December. “So, we are working towards the listing and we plan to do the listing before the end of first half 2019 or probably before the end of quarter three.

“So, there is a clear drive in doing the listing. It is something we have always wanted to do.”
MTN Nigeria had put the total value of its investment since its entrance into the Nigerian market at N2.5 trillion, adding that N184 billion was invested on network expansion in 2018 alone.