The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has been on a buying spree of MTN shares, taking advantage of a sharp decline in the mobile operator’s market value that was triggered by regulatory woes in Nigeria. Despite an ongoing dispute in MTN’s biggest market — authorities in Nigeria have demanded as much as $10.1bn from the company — SA’s state-owned investment manager says it is bullish about MTN’s prospects. The PIC, which manages about R2-trillion on behalf of government employees and other social funds, is already MTN’s largest shareholder. It has lifted its stake in the company to 25.6%, from about 18.7%, according to Bloomberg data. Since MTN has about 1.9-billion shares in issue, the transactions would have cost the PIC at least R10bn based on Thursday’s closing price of R89.80 a share.

“We believe MTN has a strong set of assets and competencies, which can be optimised and better utilised to capitalise on an abundance of consumer and enterprise opportunities across the co...

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