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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir Gwarzo, has confirmed that discussions were ongoing with leading GSM service provider, MTN Nigeria, on its planned listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Addressing journalists on Wednesday in Lagos after the second Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting, the SEC boss said outcome of the talks would be known to the public when finalised.

The Nigerian government had said telecommunication firms operating in the country should list on the local bourse, though nothing concrete was yet to be realised.

Last year, the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) fined MTN Nigeria N330 billion for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards on its network and this had a negative effect on its earnings for the year.

But speaking today, Mr Gwarzo said his agency has met with MTN Nigeria and has suggested ways to the firm on how to successfully list its shares on the NSE trading platform.

“Concerning listing of MTN (Nigeria) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, we have started discussions with them and also given them ideas on how to make it possible.

“We hope very soon, when the discussions are over, the company will announce its listing to investing public.

“I believe it (the listing) will boost our economy and showcase Nigeria as a good place to invest,” the SEC chief told newsmen.

Recall that late last year, officials of MTN Nigeria held a meeting with the capital market regulator on the sale of its Nigerian unit.

During the meeting, SEC emphatically told MTN that it was ready to support the company on its share sale as long as it was within local laws. It advised the telecom firm to ensure retail investors were protected.

MTN Nigeria had also stressed that it was ready to list its Nigerian unit on the NSE in 2017, subject to market conditions, part of an agreement with the Nigerian government after agreeing to pay a reduced fine of $1.7 billion in a settlement over unregistered SIM cards.

On June 30, 2017, General Manager of MTN, Mr Nikiwe Tsaagane, further assured the Federal Government that the leading telecommunications firm in the country will list its shares on NSE.

At a meeting with the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, in Abuja, the General Manager of MTN had noted that the company would still go ahead with the listing.

He had explained that plans were underway to make shareholders apply for the listing digitally.

“To achieve this, we are working with the Nigeria Stock Exchange to develop an application platform to enable our customers apply online. It would be the first time such is happening in the country,” Mr Tsaagane had informed the Minister during the meeting about two months ago.

The MTN top shot had also boasted that the listing of MTN Nigeria on the NSE would showcase Africa’s second biggest economy in the global economy.

“It is going to offer important role in the capital market as it will be one of the largest transactions in Africa,” he had bragged.

“The transaction is structured by ensuring that it is data based and inclusive as we ensure that our Nigerian customers are able to participate,” Mr Tsaagane had added.

The South African company boasts of over 60 million subscribers in Nigeria.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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