MTN under pressure to list its Uganda unit to renew operating licence there
While listing isn’t a pre-condition for getting a new 10-year contract, the country wants ‘Ugandans to be part of the company’
The carrier is also offering a 35% stake of its Ghanaian unit to local investors in return for access to local spectrum, in what will be that country’s biggest-ever IPO. An MTN spokesperson said the carrier couldn’t immediately comment on a potential Uganda listing.
Kampala — MTN Group is facing pressure to list its unit in Uganda as Africa’s largest mobile-phone company seeks to renew a licence in the country.
While selling shares on the local bourse isn’t a pre-condition for the granting of a new 10-year contract, the East African country wants "Ugandans to be part of the company," according to Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of the country’s telecommunications regulator. MTN’s current licence expires in October.
A listing of the Uganda business would follow similar moves by MTN in Ghana and Nigeria — both agreed to by the Johannesburg-based company as part of a deal with regulators. The carrier has been embroiled in a number of spats with local authorities around the continent in recent years, most notably in Nigeria, where it agreed to a $1bn fine in 2016 alongside an initial public offering (IPO) of its unit in Lagos.
The shares gained 0.7% to R102.16 as of 10.01am in Johannesburg, valuing the company at R192bn.
MTN Uganda has a market share of about 55%, Mutabazi said. The company says is had almost 10.9-million customers in the country as of the end of March, compared with more than 221-million across 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East.
Last month, MTN complained that officials from the Internal Security Organisation raided its data centre in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and disconnected four servers, posing a risk to customer data.