Nigerian Bourse Wants Mobile Companies To List Publicly

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Africa’s second-largest stock exchange after the Johannesburg Stock Exchange wants more companies to place initial public offerings to better mirror the make-up of the Nigerian economy, Bloomberg reports.

Although Nigeria is the continent’s top crude oil producer, the NSE has few oil companies and utilities as well as lacking telecommunications groups.

But the Nigerian Stock Exchange said it’s making some progress in persuading four mobile-phone companies in Africa’s largest economy to sell their shares.

These include South Africa’s MTN, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom and Emirates Telecommunications, Bloomberg reports.

“The stance has moved from them not wanting to list to them looking at how to deal with the issues that would make it unattractive to list,” CEO Oscar Onyema told Bloomberg by phone from Seoul. “We’re gaining traction.”

None of Nigeria’s mobile operators has applied to list stock, but the companies have pointed out “structural issues” hindering initial public offerings, Onyema said. He added that the Nigerian Stock Exchange is working with Nigerian authorities to address shortcomings, Bloomberg reports.

“Some don’t need to raise capital, but some do,” Onyema told Bloomberg. “If any one of the four carriers wanted to raise capital on the NSE, I don’t see that not being successful.”

The four companies had 177.5 million lines between them at the end of August, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission. South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. (MTN), which has a 49-percent market share, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment, according to Bloomberg. Emeka Opara, a spokesman for Airtel Nigeria, a unit of Bharti Airtel Ltd., couldn’t immediately comment. Calls to spokesmen at Globacom Ltd. and the local unit of Emirates Telecommunications Corp. weren’t answered.

The NSE share Index dropped 7.7 percent in 2014, the worst performer after Zimbabwe among 14 African benchmark gauges monitored by Bloomberg.