MTN Nigeria is yet to formally submit any application in respect of its planned initial public offer (IPO), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Sunday.
This is contrary to recent media reports that the capital market regulator had finally granted approval for the telecom firm’s IPO to proceed after a six weeks delay.
But, SEC, in a statement on Sunday, said the publication was “false, misleading and without merit.”
The Commission said “neither MTN Nigeria Limited, nor any of its advisers or representatives has filed any application with the SEC regarding the said IPO.”
“Given that there is no application from MTN before the Commission, there could not have been a request by MTN or any of its representatives or advisers requiring any form of regulatory review,” the Commission said.
Last year, MTN Group unfolded plans to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange through IPO this year. However, the telecom firm has been uncertain about the exact time the listing would take place.
MTN Group’s President/Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shuter, said late last year that the IPO would happen before the end of 2018 after signing all necessary documents and fulfilling all requirements for electronic listing.
However, there were also concerns about whether the shares would be sold to the public or through private placement.
Some Nigerians fear these shares may even be bought by investment companies that would resell to investors with a lot of money as opposed to selling it to the public.
The confusion appears to have persisted with media reports on Sunday that SEC finally approved the impending listing exercise after several weeks delay.
The report said with the approval, MTN Nigeria scheduled the IPO for August 2018, with a pre-IPO presentation showing about 402 million shares would be issued, with one share to be split into 50 units to create 20 billion shares.
Besides, the report said the MTN planned to use the revenue to be realized from the IPO to pay up its debt, and redeem preference shares issued to existing investors who bought the shares more than a decade ago.
A market leader in the Nigerian telecommunications industry, MTN controls 40.7 per cent of the total market share with about 65.2 million subscribers.
In 2015, MTN was fined $1billion by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to obey regulatory directive to disconnect all unregistered subscribers on its network before a general deadline.
The fine contributed to MTN’s increasing debt burden, from about $4.2billion in 2016 to $4.6billion the following year.
The Commission said in the statement as a private company limited by shares it would not only welcome filings from MTN Nigeria Limited aimed at deepening and broadening the capital market, but would also be ready to provide the necessary regulatory support.
“If MTN finally files a formal and complete application with the Commission, it would be treated with the usual diligence and urgency that is applicable to all such filings,” the Commission said.
Besides, it reminded all capital market operators of their duty not to furnish the Commission with false, and misleading information in any material particular, warning that it would not hesitate to take necessary regulatory actions against any erring market operator
It reassured of the Commission’s commitment to its core mandate of investor protection and continued maintenance of the integrity of the Nigerian capital market.