Archive for the 'IPO' Category

Africa’s top telco towers firm seeks $7bn US listing

A telecoms firm launched in Lagos is set to be Africa’s biggest listing in the United States with a suggested $7bn valuation. IHS Holding Ltd, which operates up to 28,000 wireless telcoms towers across nine countries, announced plans to go ahead with a potential initial public offering (IPO) of shares to investors in a press release on 14 August. It said the listing would start after a review by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but gave no more details.

It is Africa’s largest mobile infrastructure provider and third largest independent multinational tower company in the world. It could be seeking to raise up to $1bn in New York.

In February, before the COVID-19 crisis hit markets, news agency Bloomberg gave the estimated valuation for IHS, which is based in Mauritius, and reported it had hired Citigroup Inc and JP Morgan Chase & Co as global coordinators for a listing. The preference was for New York as other world-leading telco tower firms are also listed in the US and have higher valuations compared to those in London. In 2018 the firm had delayed plans for a listing until after Nigeria’s Presidential election as Nigeria is still its main market.

Group CEO is US entrepreneur Sam Darwish, originally from Lebanon, was working in Nigeria with the first mobile (GSM) operator there. He founded IHS in 2001, with IHS Chief Operating Officer William Saad when the Government announced plans to privatize telecoms. The group builds or buys towers and leases space to mobile network operators (MNOs) who in turn provide wireless voice or data to customers, and it manages sites for MNOs. It is active in Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda with some 24,000 towers.

Earlier in 2020, IHS finalized the acquisition of some 1,600 telecom towers in Kuwait from Zain and of Brazil’s Cell Site Solutions (Cessão De Infraestruturas S.A., CSS) which has some 2,300 towers and telecom infrastructure sites in Brazil, Peru and Colombia.

Shareholders include the French private equity investor Wendel Group, which has a 21.3% stake, Goldman Sachs, MTN Group Ltd, previously reported with a 29% stake, and many other leading investors including International Finance Corporation and Emerging Capital Partners. Wendel is a listed long-term capital investor in a group launched by Jean-Martin de Wendel in 1704.

As it expanded, IHS has raised $5.5bn in equity from its shareholders and debt over the years, including $1.3bn in debt in 2019.

Zambia Forest lists on Lusaka Securities Exchange

Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation PLC today (12 February) brought welcome relief to the Lusaka Securities Exchange when it broke a 6-year listing drought. The listing was for the full 400 million shares, after an offer of 160m shares (40%) at ZMW2.06 each to raise ZMW330m ($22.5m). The forestry firm will use the proceeds from selling 70m of these shares for working capital, expenses and capital spending.

Zaffico is the biggest company in establishing, managing and selling exotic roundwood in Zambia and manages 51,659 hectares in pine and eucalyptus plantations plus some 50,000 hectares of unplanted land. It sells mature trees harvested as well as poles for transmission, fencing and construction.

According to the prospectus, dated 6 December, the total share offer included a sale of 90m shares from Zambia’s state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The offer opened on 11 December. The sponsoring broker is Pangaea Securities. It was the LuSE’s first public offer and listing in 6 years since Madison Financial Services in mid-2014. The share offer was extended by 8 days but closed on 29 January.

In the financial year 2018, Zaffico’s revenue was ZMW244.7m (up from ZMW208.2m in 2017), earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was ZMW163.5m (ZMW148.2m) and net profit was ZMW119.6m (ZMW114.5m). Zaffico has also been authorized to sell confiscated rosewood mukula logs and logs harvested before harvesting mukula was banned. In August 2019 it was reported that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) had decided to include mukula trees in its Annex II listing. Rosewood has a high value in China for making furniture and is being widely harvested across Africa while Zambia has imposed bans and lifted them from time to time (Lusaka Times estimates that some $2bn of mukula revenue was stolen by a cartel).

Seychelles MERJ Exchange IPO closes 28 Feb

The MERJ Exchange, the national securities exchange of Seychelles, has extended its $4 million initial public offer (IPO) to 28 February in the form of tokenized shares. The exchange already listed the tokens on itself by introduction on 7 August 2019 and opened the IPO on 10 September.

The exchange, previously known as Trop-X, says it is the world’s first fully regulated exchange that can handle both securities and digital assets, has a fully regulated post-trade processing infrastructure and works with a central clearing model. It operates a stock exchange for equities, debt and derivatives and says it will be first global market to offer the full cycle in primary and secondary markets in digital assets.

At the time of issuing the prospectus (27 August 2019) the bourse had 31 listed equities and 2 debt issues with market capitalization of $382.7 million. There were 3 members and 5 listing sponsors.

The MERJ Exchange shares are tokenized into digital assets. The offer is for tokens representing 1,652,893 securities at $2.42 per share, to be traded in USD. This will be 16% of the total shares if issued in full giving a valuation of $25m for the exchange. The minimum raise for the IPO to go ahead will be $500,000, the minimum subscription per investor is $2,000 (826 shares) and $10,000 (4,132 shares) from within the USA.

MERJ Exchanges plans to spend the offer proceeds on IT advisors and consultants, increasing its staff and marketing.

The total share capital is 15 million ordinary shares with a par value of $0.03 each. This has been tokenized to 8,684,207 tokenized shares which are currently listed.

It is starting to attract international partners including Jumpstart Securities in the US and Globacap in UK for the offer. The sponsor advisor for the offer is PKF Capital Markets (Seychelles) Ltd.

According to the investment deck (available here), it has big plans to increase the number of issuers from the current 33 to 111 by the end of year 2, boost the total market capitalization (already $1 billion according to a January 2020 newsletter) and increase the number of sponsors and brokers, as well as liquidity. It will cut trading fees from current 0.5% to 0.15% and have a capital raise fee of 0.3%.

MERJ aims to position itself as a key regulated system as blockchain technology transforms the way the world delivers value, including tokenization of illiquid assets including real estate, shares in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), copyrights and collectables such as art. It hopes to take on global incumbent exchanges which have legacy structures and stakeholders that are not yet ready to tackle the change.

From MERJ Exchange investment deck

The exchange was incorporated in 2011 as Trop-X (Seychelles) Ltd, received its licence to operate the Seychelles Securities Exchange in June 2012 and went live in August 2013 with the first equity listing. It became the national numbering agency and launching debt and derivatives exchanges in 2014. It listed its first Eurobond in 2016 and started working on the digital asset project with the Ethereum Alliance. It changed name in December 2018 and did its first tokenized listing, of its own shares, on 7 August 2019. Operational partners include Euroclear and Strate in its partners.

Ed Tuohy, CEO of MERJ Exchange, says in the investment deck: “MERJ has spent years establishing the infrastructure, the regulatory licences and the technology. We can now move decisively.”

According to the deck: “MERJ enjoys a number of key structural and organisational advantages which put us firmly ahead of the competition. These are: vertical integration, regulatory approval, agile organization, respected jurisdiction, live and operational, direct access platform.” The structure is MERJ Exchange Ltd and 2 wholly owned subsidiaries, MERJ Clearing and Settlement Ltd and MERJ Depositary and Registry Ltd.

The regulator Financial Services Authority Seychelles is an associate member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and meets similar regulatory standards as all global regulators. MERJ is an affiliate member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE).

Seychelles is not listed on tax avoidance blacklists but is on the grey list of the European Union (with 31 countries including Namibia and Botswana) and Oxfam. By comparison Mauritius was removed from all EU lists in October 2019 but remains on the Oxfam grey list.

The Seychelles regulatory structure allows MERJ to integrate overseas organizations that are licensed and regulated in a recognized jurisdiction and there is no requirement that members have a presence in Seychelles.
It aims to provide seamless direct access for individual users using mobile and web apps.

For more information and to apply for the offer look at the MERJ Exchange website or the offer page on Globacap and US investors should speak to their broker.

NOTE: This article does not constitute investment advice, the purpose is news information. The writer is not affiliated to MERJ Exchange. Read the full prospectus, available here.

Helios Towers raised $364m in London IPO

Mobile telephone infrastructure company Helios Towers raised $364 million and listed on the London Stock Exchange yesterday 15 October. The stock HTWS launched at the bottom of the target price range at 115p and traded in a range of 115.00 – 126.98 over the day. Excluding the “greenshoe” extension the offer raised $318m, according to the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Gokul Mani, Head of Primary Markets – Middle East, Africa & India, LSE, said in an email: “London Stock Exchange continues to be a strong partner to companies across the Middle East and Africa. Four of the five largest IPOs from the region this year have listed on our market. London’s capital markets offer deep liquid pools of capital, connecting issuers from the Middle East and Africa with long-term international investors, supporting dynamic companies, infrastructure development, and economic growth in the region. ”

In total, 124 companies from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region are listed in London and have raised over $35 billion in equity issues. There are also 242 active MEA bond issuers who raised nearly $143bn. Of the top 10 initial public offers (IPOs) on the LSE in 2019, 4 are from MEA region. According to a Bloomberg report; “The London market is particularly quiet and Helios is one of several African and Middle Eastern companies that are helping to keep it alive.”

The share offer allowed shareholders including Millicom International Cellular SA and Bharti Airtel Ltd. to sell down their stakes. It was founded in 2009 with $350m backing by London-founded private equity firm Helios Investments alongside investors including George Soros and Madeline Albright, according to this report on Quartz .

Helios has more than 6,800 mobile telecommunications towers spread across five African countries (South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Republic of Congo and Tanzania) which it rents to mobile phone providers such as Vodacom, MTN and Airtel. It plans to use some of the IPO proceeds to keep pace with fast-growing consumption of mobile data in Africa, expand into new markets, build more towers and roll out fourth-generation (4G) mobile services. We wrote about the IPO here.

Another major mobile operator IHS Towers is raising $1.3bn via debt markets with 2 issues closing next week, according to Bloomberg, while American Tower Corp is buying a third provider, Eaton Towers Ltd. for $1.85bn.

Quartz cites Matthew Edwards, head of research for the region at research firm TowerXchange, there are 158,000 towers in Africa and “towercos” own 39.3%. There are expected to be more than 600m subscribers to mobile phones by 2025.

Towers can bring revenues to rural communities and land-owners. According to Quartz “As part of efforts to cut down costs, towercos are increasingly investing in hybrid power solutions like lithum-ion batteries and solar power. There’s a net upside for local communities housing towers given the possibility of reduced diesel consumption for generators and an accompanying reduction in emissions and pollution.”

This distinguishes Helios Towers, according to this LSEG backgrounder: “One thing that differentiates Helios Towers Africa from some of its competitors is that every site it operates also contains a mini power station. ‘This provides our customers with the uninterrupted power needed for mobile networks,’ explains Kash (CEO Kash Pandya), who is optimistic about the company’s prospects for the future. ‘It’s an exciting time to be in telecoms in Africa and a very exciting time to be in towers too.’”

$1.8bn Helios Towers closing London IPO on 14 Oct

Heliso Towers raising in London for Africa expansion and 5G

Africa’s next mega-listing on the London Stock Exchange is an African company that operates 7,000 towers in the mobile telecommunications sector that continues to show strong growth. According a a recent report on Reuters, Helios Towers Ltd has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at 115-145 pence per share on 2 October, implying a total valuation of $1.42 billion to $1.79bn.

According to the report, the deal close books on 14 October and first day of trading is expected on 15 October. Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch International, Jefferies and Standard Bank are joint global coordinators while Renaissance Capital and EFG Hermes are joint bookrunners. Helios is planning a free float of about 25% of its shares.

The pricing is down from earlier suggestions of up to £2bn ($2.47bn), including in the Financial Times, when the listing was first announced on 12 September. There have been several global listings this year including e-commerce company Jumia in New York, telco Airtel Africa and payment provider Network International in London. Recently the share prices of both Airtel and Jumia have been weak.

Reuters quotes one source familiar with the Helios deal: “It’s a really good business in a strong sector, telecoms in Africa is the sort of growth story that appeals in this low-growth environment (globally)”.

According to Kash Pandya, CEO of Helios Towers, in a report on website Total Telecom: “The Sub-Saharan Africa telecommunications market is and will continue to be one of the most exciting and high growth in the world. The underlying demographic and macro-economic trends are compelling: a young, growing and increasingly urbanized population whose demand for high-quality mobile voice and data services continues unabated, which is being further fuelled by expansion of 3G and 4G services and one day 5G services; and GDP growth that across our markets is expected to be 4.5%. per annum to 2024.”

Helios rents towers in 5 countries to telecommunications companies such as Airtel, MTN, Orange, Tigo and Vodacom. It has entered the competitive South African market, operates in Republic of Congo and Ghana, and is the only provider of towers in Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. It reached earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization (EBIDTA) of $201m at the end of the second quarter of 2019, after 18 consecutive quarters of growth in adjusted EBIDTA.

It aims to raise $125m by issuing new shares in an initial public offer (IPO) and to use the money to expand, including into other fast-growing markets such as Senegal and Morocco and potentially into Angola and Ethiopia. The offer would also allow shareholders, including the International Finance Corporation and telecommunications firms Millicom and Bharti Airtel, to sell some of their shares.

Helios was founded in 2009 and is incorporated in Mauritius, although it will set up a holding company in London chaired by Ghanaian businessman Samuel Jonah.

Market conditions in 2018 caused both Helios and Eaton Towers, another telecoms company, to cancel plans to list internationally. Eaton Towers, slightly smaller than Helios Towers, was sold to American Tower in May in a deal which gave it an enterprise value of $1.85bn, according to the FT.

Africa issuers raised $341m in 6 months, down 28%

Enterprises based in Africa raised $341 million through equity issues in the first half of 2019, down 28% on the $472m raised in the first half of 2018. Law firm Baker McKenzie has published its Cross-Border IPO Index for H1 2019, using data sourced from Refinitiv, and says this was mainly because only $85m was raised from 4 initial public offers (IPOs) on African exchanges, down 80% from $419m from 4 IPOs in the first half of 2018.

The numbers exclude mega issues by Africa-focused issuers based outside Africa. These include $750m raised on 28 June by the IPO for UK-headquartered Airtel Africa (read about the slow first day) which operates in 14 countries; and $196m raised by pan-Africa e-commerce Jumia Group (headquartered in Germany) on the New York Stock Exchange in April, see our article about the share price performance since then. Jumia sells in 13 African countries and is top e-commerce website with over 15m monthly visitors in Nigeria.

Wildu du Plessis, Head of Capital Markets at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, says in a press release: “The drop in African IPO values in H1 2019 was mostly because of political and economic uncertainty on the continent. Investors wanting to raise capital in Africa are thinking twice and waiting for political and economic stability to return before going ahead. Also eroding investor confidence in Africa are the escalating global trade tensions, which have culminated in, for example, the so-called United States (US) China trade wars and the possibility of a “no deal Brexit” – both have the potential to impact African economies significantly.”

Egypt buzzing

Listing bell and trading floor of the Egyptian Exchange

Baker McKenzie says Egypt is generating buzz around its pipeline of IPOs with some speculating this could be the busiest year for listings in Cairo since the uprising in 2011. Growing confidence in economic policies introduced since the currency float has boosted the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) and is prompting companies to consider share sales.

In April Khalid Abel Rahman, Assistant Minister of Finance for Capital Market Affairs, said the Government was embarking on an IPO programme is to raise EGP100bn ($5.8bn). Mohamed Farid, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange, said that three private companies expect to launch initial public offerings (IPOs) before the end of 2019,

Baker McKenzie says a large IPO is Carbon Holdings Ltd, expected to raise $250m by selling a 30% stake and listing in London and Egypt. The company has missed the Q2 timetable mentioned by Karim Helal, Managing Director of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations, in this article last September. EFG Hermes is acting as advisor and global coordinator for the IPO, Baker & McKenzie is local legal counsel, and White & Case is international counsel.

Another large IPO is expected from Banque du Caire SAE, owned by Egypt’s second-largest state-owned bank Banque Misr. The bank has announced it will offer a 20%-30% of its shares for sale through private placement and public offering. The offer is expected to raise $300m-$400m and is forecast to happen in Q3 or Q4.

Hard work in South Africa

Du Plessis warns that governance concerns held back capital raising in South Africa: “Capital raising has decreased substantially in recent years, also due to economic and political uncertainty. Political stability will hopefully begin to return now that country’s elections are over, but there is still a lot of work to do to stabilise the economy. The World Bank recently downgraded South Africa’s growth rates and I think there is at least another year of hard work before the economy starts to recuperate and capital markets in South Africa recover,” Du Plessis says.

Life returns in Nigeria

Du Plessis adds: “There are also signs of life returning to Nigeria’s capital markets. Political instability was also to blame for a big collapse in capital raising in Nigeria in recent years, but the country looks to be recovering”. Baker McKenzie’s recent Global Transactions Forecast predicts more IPOs in Nigeria in the next 3 years. “Hopefully this is the start of a long upswing in capital raising activity in the country,” says Du Plessis.

Not specifically mentioned was the $5.1bn listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (see article), which is expected to be followed by a public offering of shares soon.

By sector (details from Baker McKenzie, Enko Capital and other sources)

Energy and power: South African company Renergen Ltd, which produces natural gas and helium, in an IPO in Australia offered 12.5m shares at AUD0.80 to raise AUD10m ($7m) for its Virginia Gas Project in South Africa. Financial: Banking group Oragroup listed on the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) in April after a successful IPO in Oct-Nov 2018, selling 20% of the shares to raise XOF56.92bn ($101.2m) in the largest share offer on the BRVM.
Technology: It was reported by Enko that telco Mascom could do an IPO in Botswana later this year and Econet’s Strive Masiyiwa says it will be in October and will be the biggest listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange, according to this report. Namibia’s MTC (Mobile Telecommunications Corporation) has announced plans for an IPO in Mar-June 2020.
Real estate: ICON Properties PLC’s IPO last December in Malawi raised $19.3m, and the shares were listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange in January.
Industrial: Skyway Aviation Handling Co (SAHCOL) in Nigeria launched an IPO in November 2018 but only raised NGN1.2bn ($3.4m) compared to a target of NGN1.9bn ($5.2m) despite extending the offer until January. It listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on 24 April.
Healthcare: Speed Medical SAE raised EGP21.5m ($1.3m), less than half its target in a domestic IPO before listing on the Egyptian Exchange in April. Consumer: Eastern Tobacco, listed on the EGX, announced in March that it had raised EGP1.7bn ($104m) through offering 4.5% of its shares in public and private offers.

Global Outlook

The Africa picture mirrors a global 37% fall in capital raised through IPOs in global markets, compared to the first 6 months of 2018. According to Baker McKenzie, a total of $69.8bn was raised across 514 IPOs, which is the lowest for value and volume since 2016. The US Federal government shutdown, continuing trade tensions between the US and Beijing, the ongoing Brexit saga and the decline of mega IPOs all contributed to a slower market performance. “With fewer IPOs in the market, competition amongst exchanges is growing, as some listing locations make strategic changes to entice public offerings. The introduction of China’s Science and Technology Innovation Board looks set to shake up the market and challenge New York and Hong Kong for tech listings. “

Koen Vanhaerents, Baker McKenzie’s Head of Global Capital Markets, says: “.. significant political issues stifled activity, along with a change in investor sentiment towards risk – particularly among pre-revenue companies.” The decline “is perhaps skewed slightly when compared to the stellar performance seen in the same period in 2018. With a strong pipeline, H2 2019 looks set to deliver a much more prosperous performance overall.”

EMEA outlook

The EMEA IPO market struggled during the first 6 months of 2019 due to uncertainties surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union. Overall capital raised fell by 67% compared to the same period in 2018 to $9.2bn while the number of IPOs fell by 61% to 47. Cross-border activity was even more profoundly impacted with only three listings in EMEA and only one of those on the London Stock Exchange. Domestic activity levels helped the London Stock Exchange to retain the top spot for overall capital raising at $2.7bn from 12 listings. Seven of these listings were from the financials sector and raised almost $2bn, the largest of which was Network International’s $1.4bn IPO.

Second to London was Borsa Italiana with $2.3bn from 7 listings, boosted by the $2.2bn Nexi SpA listing. SIX Swiss exchange pulled in $1.9bn from 2 IPOs, with Stadler Rail’s debut accounting for $1.3bn of that.

Despite its sluggish performance, EMEA is proving to be the region of choice for FinTech listings, particularly in the payments field, as the age of digitization and cashless transactions continues to explode, fueling the need for innovation and technological growth. FinTech listings accounted for more than a third of capital raised and the largest listing was Nexi SpA’s IPO.

Weak reception for Airtel Africa $750m IPO

Share price chart from ADVFN ( https://uk.advfn.com/stock-market/london/airtel-africa-AAF/share-chart )

Shares in Africa’s second biggest telecom company had a disappointing start in conditional trading on the London Stock Exchange today. The initial public offer had been priced at the bottom of the 80p-100p range, and in exchange trading it quickly plummeted 16% from 80p and by 4pm the shares had retreated to around 67p.

Today the trading was conditional, only for holders allocated shares in the global IPO. The shares are set to start trading unconditionally on the LSE from 3 July and Airtel Africa will be dual-listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange from 5 July.

The offer of 744.0m shares had raised approximately £595 million ($750m), including 39.2m shares offered to Nigerian institutional and high net worth investors for a total Nigerian offer of some $39.4m.

According to this morning’s stock exchange news service RNS announcement : “The offer was oversubscribed with strong interest from a variety of reputed global investors across the United Kingdom, United States, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Dominant allocation to Global long only, strategic and pre-IPO investors.”

There is an over-allotment option of 67.6 new shares which, if exercised in full, would account for approximately £54m of the offer. Including the overallotment option, the market capitalization at this afternoon’s price is some £2.6bn ($3.2bn), down from the offer valuation of £3.1bn.

After the IPO the free float was 19% but after including pre-IPO investors holdings the free float will be over 25% and it aims to be included in FTSE UK indices.

According to the RNS announcement, Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa, said: “We are delighted by the strong response we have received.. This is a proud moment for the team that has built Airtel Africa into the second largest mobile operator in Africa. We are now the first telecom company to simultaneously list on the Premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange through an IPO.”

According to our article in January and this month in here and today’s article in the Financial Times a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, Singapore Telecommunications and private equity firm Warburg Pincus invested $1.25bn at a valuation of around $4.4bn last October. In January this year Qatar Investment Authority invested $200m at a valuation closer to $5bn.

At that stage it was anticipated that the London and Nigeria IPOs would raise $1.25bn.

The IPO was advised by 8 global banks: JP Morgan, Citigroup, BofA Merrill Lynch, Absa Group Limited, Barclays Bank PLC, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs International and Standard Bank.

Indian parent Bharti Airtel aims to use the funds to slash debt and free cash to combat rival Reliance Jio Infocomm in India.

Airtel Africa is the holding company for Bharti Airtel’s operations in 14 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. It is Africa’s second largest telco with over 94m customers, and ranked in the top 2 carriers in most of the countries where it operates, offering 2G, 3G and 4G services, plus mobile commerce through Airtel Money.

Performance had improved after years of losses against financially stronger telco players in Africa, including Vodacom. Rising mobile data consumption had helped it reach a first full year of profit and the figures for the year to 31 March were revenue of more than $3bn and operating profit of $734m.

Airtel Tanzania HQ (photo by Prof.Chen Hualin creative commons by Wikipedia)

Airtel Africa confirms June $750m listing in London

Airtel Tanzania HQ (photo by Prof.Chen Hualin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, creative commons by Wikipedia

Airtel Africa has confirmed that it is going ahead in June 2019 with its $750 million listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, as flagged up in January in our article. Owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, it is Africa’s second biggest mobile operator with operations in 14 countries and has 99m subscribers and 14.2m mobile money customers.

It said this week that it is aiming for a premium listing on the main market of the LSE, meaning it will float at least 25% of hits shares. It could offer up to 15% more shares through an overallotment option, according to a report in Financial Times which reports that the group says the exact number of shares to be sold and the indicative price range of the offer will be determined “in due course”.

Airtel will use the proceeds to cut the ratio of net debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) to 2.5x, according to City AM. It also plans to expand data and mobile money services across Africa.

It is also considering a listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, according to reports.

Advisers and joint bookrunners appointed are JP Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Absa, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and the Standard Bank of Africa but the sole as its advisers. JP Morgan will be sole sponsor; BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JPMorgan will also act as joint global co-ordinators.

The amount to be raised in the listing is down from the figure of $1bn given by Reuters on 28 May quoting Airtel, and the $1.25bn figure in January and February.

For the year to 31 March it posted revenue of more than $3bn and operating profit of $734m. For more background on the shareholders and earlier capital raises, read our earlier report.

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MTN Nigeria shares soaring after $5bn listing

Telecommunications firm MTN Nigeria has had strong days of trading since it joined the Nigerian Stock Exchange in a listing by introduction on 16 May. As it moves closer to what the company may feel is “fair value”, chances of a future initial public offering (IPO) increase.

The $5.1bn listing of 20.4 billion (20,354,513,050) ordinary shares of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN) at N90 per share on the Premium Board makes it the second biggest stock on the NSE after Dangote Cement plc and ahead of Nestle Nigeria plc, according to Bloomberg. It is the Nigerian unit of MTN Group Ltd, Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company.

Journalist Shola Lawal writing in Mail and Guardian newspaper described the scene: “At exactly 2.30pm, when the stock market closed on Thursday, MTN Nigeria’s chairperson Pascal Dozie and Ferdi Moolman, MTN Nigeria’s CEO, excitedly clanged metal sticks on a gong on the crowded trade floor at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) building. The room, filled with brokers in their maroon jackets, erupted in celebration.”

The shares were priced at N90 and have since climbed some 10% a day to reach N119.75 by close of business on 20 May. The main shareholders are only letting a few shares go until the share gets a higher price, according to an interesting interview by Kayode Omosebi, Team Lead, Financial Advisory at ARM Securities on CNBC. He estimates the stock will keep moving until it gets past N130 when more stock could become available, but his firm estimates “fair value” at N149.

Omesebi adds that interest has been wide including retail investors, and could spark a revival of interest in other equities. It will also widen liquidity across telecom stocks in Africa as investors will have a wider range of shares in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and other markets.

The NSE listing is part of a settlement with the Federal Government of Nigeria after a $5.2bn fine was imposed for failing to meet at 2016 deadline to register SIM cards. In September 2018 there was a $2bn bill for back taxes, and the Central Bank of Nigeria said it has illegally repatriated $8.1bn between 2007 and 2015.

The initial plan was for a share offer or IPO, and MTN Chairman Dozie was not giving any timetable for when that will come: “We were to have an IPO but due to unforeseen circumstances we couldn’t. Half bread is better than none.”

Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer of NSE, said in a press release: “Having MTN Nigeria listed in our market is a testament of the exchange’s commitment to building a dynamic and inclusive market and creating channels for sustainable investment. This listing will promote liquidity for MTN Nigeria, enhance its value and increase transparency, as our platform remains one of the best avenues for raising capital and enabling sustainable growth for national development”.

Analysts also hope that the listing will encourage international oil companies and two other key telecoms firms, Airtel and Globacom.

Mail and Guardian quotes Ugo Obi-Chukwu, founder of leading financial literacy website, Nairametrics: “The last time we had any major listings was in the early 2000s and it was the Government that stimulated those listings… This will open the floodgates for more listings and possibly renew an interest in the stock market.”

The premium board is “a listing segment for the elite group of issuers that meet The Exchange’s most stringent corporate governance and listing standards. This Board features Dangote Cement Plc, FBN Holdings Plc, Zenith International Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Lafarge Africa Plc, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc,” according to the NSE.

IPO report 2 – African companies raised $2.2bn in 2018

Africa-focused companies raised $2.17 billion via 18 share offers (IPO) and listings in 2018, but the number is down 25% from $2.89bn raised in 2017 with 26 share offers and listings. According to asset manager Enko Capital, the slowdown was driven by “unfavourable market conditions”.

The Egyptian Exchange had 4 IPOs in 2018, and Ghana, Morocco and South Africa had 2 IPOs each and Botswana and Uganda one each. Six Africa-focused companies also offer shares through IPO on foreign exchanges in London and Australia. The offers included 2 IPOs linked to exits by private equity firms, continuing a trend to develop this as an exit route for private equity growth investors in African enterprises.

Enko Capital adds that the African exchanges enjoyed another 16 new listings in 2018, of which 7 were listing by introduction (down from 8 in 2017), 6 were cross listings (5 in 2017) and 3 were spin-offs as a company separated a part (4 in 2017).

The total number of listings for Africa-focused firms was 34 in 2018 (43 in 2017).

Botswana’s December bank listing

On 13 December 2018, African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BankABC) successfully listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange following an IPO which raised BWP361.05 million ($33.90m). It is Botswana’s fifth largest bank in Botswana by assets and has over 60,000 customers and 330 employees. The IPO featured 180,525,000 shares or 24.9% of its share capital at BWP2.00 each.

Bank ABC is a subsidiary of Atlas Mara through ABC Holdings Limited, also incorporated in Botswana, which is the parent company of a number of sub-Saharan Africa banks operating under the BancABC brand in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and a group services office in South Africa. The group was formed through mergers and acquisitions and offers personal, business and corporate banking as well as asset management, stockbroking and treasury services.

Egyptian education provider listed Sept

The Egyptian listings included an IPO of some 14.5m shares of Egypt’s Cairo for Investment and Real Estate Development company (CIRA) which was 18.9 times oversubscribed in September 2018. There was also a private offer for 192.5m shares which was 10.6 times oversubscribed, according to this story from African Markets website. The total offer was 207m shares at EGP6.00 each for a total of EGP1.2bn ($70.7m). CIRA is a private education provider in Egypt, targeting both the K-12 and the higher-education segments in six governorates, the main selling shareholder was the Social Impact Capital Ltd, according to Egypt Today.