NSE Postpones Airtel Africa’s $4.4bn Listing to Monday

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Chika Amanze-Nwachuku with agency report

The secondary listing of Airtel Africa shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) earlier scheduled for July 5 (yesterday) has been postponed to Monday.

Airtel Africa, the parent company of Airtel Nigeria, will be listing through a cross border secondary listing at N363 per share, following an Initial Public Offering by way of book building, a circular from NSE said.

The NSE had on Thursday confirmed that it had granted a listing waiver to Airtel Africa Plc despite not meeting the minimum requirement of 300 shareholders.

But the Exchange explained yesterday that it postponed the listing which had been scheduled for Friday to ensure the telecoms company meets its listing requirements.

Reuters quoted one of the financial advisors arranging the issue to have said that the delay was due to a manual allotment process of transferring the shares to new investors.

India’s Bharti Airtel last week offered shares in its African unit via a London IPO and it would dual list in Nigeria, its biggest market in Africa, the newswire reported. The NSE said it postponed the cross-border listing of 3.76 billion shares of Airtel Africa, but allowed Airtel to go ahead with an investor presentation. It said that it would inform the market on when the conditions had been met.

Airtel Africa’s planned listing is coming few months after MTN listed on the Nigerian bourse. In May, the NSE admitted MTN Nigeria Communications Plc to list shares on the stock market and joined the country’s Premium Board, listing by introduction of 20.35 billion (20,354,513,050) ordinary shares at N90 per share.

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Welcoming the listing, the NSE said: “Having two big telecommunications companies in our market is a testament of the Exchange’s commitment to building a dynamic and inclusive market and creating channels for sustainable investment.

“These listings create telecoms and technology asset class for investors and provide opportunities for a wider group of Nigerians to be part of the Nigerian telecom growth story.”

Airtel Africa is the number two mobile operator in Africa after the MTN group. The company has subsidiaries in 14 African nations including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, DR Congo, Zambia, Nigeria, and Seychelles.

Its CEO Raghunath Mandava told investors, “We have built Airtel Africa into the second-largest mobile operator in Africa and our clear strategy and efficient business model make us well positioned to capture the growth opportunities across our markets, in voice, data and mobile money.”

The company said funds raised from the two listings will be used to reduce the firm’s debt which stood at $4 (KSh404) billion in March 2019.

The NSE said Airtel shares registered in Britain may be moved from the London market to Nigeria subject to approval by the custodians in London and currency regulation in Nigeria. But Airtel shares registered in Nigeria cannot be moved to London, it said.