The hopes of the Nigerian capital market experiencing a resurgence in 2017 has again been dashed as there are indications that MTN Nigeria Ltd might not undertake its proposed share listing until 2018.
In 2015, the Nigerian Communications Commission issued a 1.04 trillion naira fine to MTN Nigeria for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers. After a series of negotiations, the sum was reduced to 330 billion naira.
As part of the settlement arrangement, MTN Nigeria agreed to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). The telecommunication giant, however, highlighted that the list could only be realisable “subject to suitable market conditions”.
MTN’s boss, Nhleko’s announcement of the delay portrays that those conditions have not been fulfilled though the company is still optimistic about fulfilling their obligation. “It’s a work in progress and hopefully within the 12 to 18 month period we will be able to do it,’’ MTN Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Officer Phuthuma Nhleko said at the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
The NSE’s experienced a huge performance decline in 2016. The equities market capitalisation dropped by 6.2 percent dipping from N9.86tn on January 1, 2016, to N9.25tn on December 30, 2016.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index (ASI) ended the year at 26874.62 points from 28370.32 points on January 1, 2016, shedding 1,495.7 points within the period. The ASI lost 41 percent in dollar terms, making it the worst performer among 94 indexes tracked by Bloomberg last year.
An estimated 35 percent of the 168 stocks listed on the main board of the NSE recorded no price movement in 2016. The financial services sector accounted for the highest number of inactive stocks.
It is, therefore, of no surprise for MTN Nigeria to delay its listing on the stock exchange as Nigeria’s premier capital market operator has failed to attract company listings in recent periods making its performance to continue declining woefully. Last year, Interswitch suspended its initial public offering stating factors based on the macroeconomic climate of the economy. The company through its Managing Director, Mitchell Elegbe explained that potential investors were concerned about the foreign exchange policies the current government had adopted and thereby expressed their fears of potentially accessing forex from the country.
Last year, the Nigerian government removed the peg on the naira allowing the naira to be floated. Despite the floating of its currency, the gap between the official rate and parallel market rates has tremendously increased because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has allegedly re-pegged the currency since then.
Companies are stalling their listing on the exchange due to the effect of the government policies on the economy. “At the moment, it is preferable for a company not to list on the stock exchange than to have a failed public offering,” said Fisayo Durojaye, an investment banking analyst with Afrinvest West Africa
Nhleko also said during WEF that “there is not a problem with capital funding, the issue is a resolution between the private sector and government to make projects attractive.” Investors are willing to invest but they desire clarity on government policies to ensure that return on their investments is certain.
“We’ve always intended to list — we have reaffirmed that with the government. Clearly, we can only list when the conditions are conducive,” said Nhleko, implying that the current macroeconomic conditions have led to the telecommunications company delaying its proposed listing.