Stock market gains N1.9tn as MTN lists 20.35 billion shares

The market capitalisation of equities listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange rose by N1.90tn on Thursday after MTN Nigeria Communications Plc listed 20.35 billion shares on the Exchange.

The stock market rose by 0.54 per cent at the close of trading, ending its eight-day losing streak.

The market capitalisation rose to N12.52tn on Thursday from N10.63tn on Wednesday, as the market capitalisation of MTN added N1.83tn to the market value of equities.

The NSE admitted MTN on its Premium Board at N90 per share.

The Premium Board is the listing segment for the elite group of issuers that meet the Exchange’s most stringent corporate governance and listing standards.

Currently, there are seven firms on the Premium Board, all of which were migrated, making MTN the first company to be listed directly to the Premium Board.

Stockbrokers at the Exchange stated that the shares of the company, in the first minute of the listing, rose by 10 per cent to N99.

The National Council President, NSE, Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo, said, “We are particularly pleased that MTN Nigeria has joined the prestigious club of companies listed on our Premium Board with this landmark transaction, which will differentiate it as a professionally run telecommunications company with high standards, having met the NSE’s listing criteria.

“A Premium Board listing is a sign of commitment to strong corporate governance, excellence, professionalism, efficiency in service delivery and providing increased returns to shareholders.  It is our expectation that the MTN Nigeria listing, which is the NSE’s second largest, will encourage other telecommunication companies to list their shares on the Exchange, thereby opening the sector up to cheaper, long-term capital that will boost innovation and development.”

The Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr Oscar Onyema, described the listing as a promising development in the country’s telecommunications sector.

He encouraged other players in the sector to explore the different opportunities in the capital markets for raising long-term capital.

Onyema said, “As a listing platform of choice, today’s listing will add to our bouquet of diverse investment offerings to the public. Having MTN Nigeria listed in our market is a testament to the Exchange’s commitment to building a dynamic and inclusive market and creating channels for sustainable investment.”

The Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Mr Pascal Dozie, said, “Today is a major milestone in the evolution of MTN in Nigeria and it is fitting that it takes place 18 years to the day since I made the first call on the MTN network on May 16, 2001.

“Since our initial investment in 2001, we have worked in partnership with Nigerians to deliver the largest network in Nigeria, with over 60 million people now able to access mobile communications services.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, said the company had evolved from an ambitious start-up at the genesis of a new and emerging industry, to a business that was able to touch lives in every corner of the country.

He noted that in the best interests of all shareholders, both current and future, the commencement listing price was set at N90 per ordinary share, which was determined with reference to private share sale transactions by MTN Nigeria shareholders over the past 180 business days.

Speaking in response to investors who asked if the company might consider delisting if it didn’t meet the NSE’s requirements, Moolman urged shareholders to rest assured.

He said, “The Nigerian market is a very strong and versatile market and we are here to stay.

“We have a lot of issues now but we still went ahead with our listing plan. That is enough assurance that we are here to stay. We will try our best to deliver the best value to our shareholders.

“Annually, about 80 per cent of our distributable income is given out as dividends to shareholders. So far, our dividend performance has been good and we will not relax now.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Chapel Hill Denham, Mr Bolaji Balogun, said Chapel Hill acted as a joint financial adviser with Stanbic IBTC Capital to MTN and that they were excited it finally came through.

He stated that the listing would be very significant because it would bring more of Nigeria’s best companies to the exchange and give a wider group of Nigerians the opportunity to participate in its shareholding.

Balogun said, “There are very few companies in Africa today that generate $1bn of free cash flow and this is one of those special companies and I’m really pleased we have it on the stock exchange.”

At the end of trading on the NSE on Thursday, 10 gainers emerged, led by NPF Microfinance Bank Plc, outperforming 25 losers, led by Unity Bank Plc.