Photograph — Nikkei Asia

Ahead of the much-anticipated listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Airtel Africa has fixed its share price between N363 and N454. Although the actual offer price is later determined by the demand generated in the bid closure, the price range is significantly higher than that of MTN Nigeria’s debut price of N90.

According to the offer prospectus, the listing will be done by way of public offering but shares will only be offered to high net worth individuals and institutional investors via book building – a systematic process of generating, capturing, and recording investor demand for shares ahead of an initial public offer (IPOs) or follow-on public offers (FPOs).

Consequently, only investors with $3 million or more in investable assets (excluding the value of their primary residence) will be qualified to purchase shares of the second largest telecoms company in Africa.

After the book building, the company’s shares will be dual-listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The telecoms firm has selected Barclays Securities Nigeria and Quantum Zenith Securities Investments Limited as the brokers for the listing in Nigeria.

Airtel is floating new shares ranging from 595.2 million to 744 million on both bourses (with an over-allotment option included) to raise £595 million. This is in line with its push to attain a valuation of about £3.6 billion, an increase from £3.007 billion to £3.623 billion; excluding any option of over-allotment.

An application has been made to the NSE for the admission of the Ordinary Shares to the official list and conditional dealings in the company’s shares will reportedly begin on July 4. At least 25 percent of the stock is expected to float freely immediately after the IPO.

While the net proceeds of the offer would primarily be used to reduce its debt burden, offering shares on the NSE would encourage operational discipline through the establishment of an independent capital structure and governance framework following the successful turnaround of the Group’s operations, Airtel Africa’s directors said in the prospectus.

More so, it would introduce an optimal capital structure, enable improved leverage for greater flexibility in pursuing growth opportunities going forward as well as provide access to the capital markets and diversification of the Group’s capital base to support its continued growth.

Airtel Africa is a subsidiary of Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel, providing mobile network and internet services in 15 African countries. In Nigeria, the company has 31 million subscribers, making it the second largest telecoms company in the country after MTN with 50 million users.

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