NIGERIA – MTN Group, South Africa-based telecommunications giant has received regulatory approval to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”).

The listing, set to proceed from May 16, 2019 was expected to be done by way of an introductory listing, meaning that the shares of existing MTN Nigeria shareholders will be listed without an additional public sale of shares.

After the listing, MTN Nigeria shareholders will also be allowed to trade their shares on the NSE.

“It gives me great pleasure to confirm that the official listing via introduction of MTN’s shares on the NSE will take place on Thursday May 16,” said Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria.

“We appreciate the continued support afforded us by the government, regulators and people of this great nation.

“In particular, I would like to thank the staff and management of MTN Nigeria who worked tirelessly to make this day possible.

“This is just the beginning; we still intend to pursue a future Public Offer giving more Nigerians greater access to the MTN opportunity.”

The listing comes three years after MTN engaged in a battle with the Nigerian authorities over unregistered SIM cards.

The company said that it had received the approval to list on the bourse’s premium board after meeting the key condition of the agreement.

The listing reportedly valued at R71 billion (US$4.87 billion) is expected to deepen the Nigerian capital market and also increase its attractiveness to investors.

The firm’s Nigerian business is owned by parent MTN Group, which holds 78.8%; Nigerian investors, who hold 19.4%; and other smaller investors, who hold 1.8%.

“As MTN Group we are very pleased that we are taking this first and important step towards increasing the local ownership of the company, and building the equity capital markets in Nigeria,” said MTN Group CFO, Ralph Mupita.

After attracting US$5 billion in fines for unregistered SIM cards, MTN agreed to pay the Nigerian federal government a reduced US$1.6 billion.

The telecom was last year accused of expatriating about US$8 billion between 2007 and 2015 in breach of foreign exchange controls.

In December, MTN settled, paying about $53-million and admitting no liability.

It has also been indicted by the state’s auditor general of avoiding US$2 billion in taxes, something it has since denied.

In the first quarter ended March 31, 2019, MTN recorded 13.4% growth in service revenue driven by a 12.7% and 32.4% rise in voice and data revenue respectively and the addition of 2.1 million active mobile subscribers to the network.