The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), on Tuesday, July 9, finally admitted 3,758,151,504 ordinary shares of Airtel Africa Plc onto its main board at an offer price of N363 per unit on the Main Board. The shares, however, gained the single day maximum 10%, closing at N399.30 per share, bringing its market capitalization to N1.5tr (about $7.2bn), which makes it the biggest company on the NSE behind Dangote Cement (N2.976tr); and major competitor- MTN Nigeria (N2.626tr).
The company which is tagged “Below Listing Standard (BLS)” by the NSE, on account of it not having up to 300 shareholders as expected in the NSE’s post-listing rule, after a Cross Border Secondary Listing. It was primarily listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) at 80p per ordinary share.
A statement by the company quoted Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, expressed delight at the listing, describing it as “an exciting time for Airtel Africa in the 14 countries it operates in and an important milestone in our development as a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services in Africa.”
Speaking on the floor of the Exchange, just before sounding the closing gong, the company said the listing offers an opportunity for shared prosperity among Nigerians and Africans.
Managing Director/CEO of Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, assured that “Nigeria is a great place for business and Airtel Africa remains committed to building a leadership position here.
“Investors have been interested to hear our story, and importantly they have been interested enough to invest in our business and are now ready to share the future with us.”
Ogunsanya expressed happiness at the huge potential of the company across the 14 countries of operation, especially given the fact that the company’s offerings are consumed by Africans. The company, he continued, will also be looking to tap the huge opportunities in the fledgling mobile money space.
For him, Nigeria is a great place for business and Airtel is committed to the economy, stressing that “it is difficult to be big in Africa (as a business) except you are big in Nigeria.”
He thanked investors for the display of confidence in the company and saluted the regulators for approving the cross-border listing of Nigeria’s first telecommunications giant after a primary listing in London.
Also speaking at the event, Awuneba Ajumogobia, a member of Airtel Africa’s board, described the listing process as an interesting experience, saying the company looks forward to playing in the mobile money space also.
The listing, according to a statement by the NSE, is expected to increase the visibility of Airtel Africa to investors on the continent and across the globe, just as lifted the market capitalization of The Exchange by N1.36tr, further deepening the Nigerian capital market.
Commenting on the listing, Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, commended the company’s board and management for taking the bold step to list its shares, which “reaffirms Airtel Africa’s long-term commitment to expanding opportunities and providing everyday services to Africans and Nigerians in particular.
“It also indicates the firm’s belief that our platform, which has a total market capitalization of N25.2tr across various asset classes, remains a veritable avenue for raising capital and enabling sustainable national growth. This listing serves to deepen the telecoms and technology sector for investors and provides an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to be part of the African telecoms growth story”.
“Today’s listing is a promising development in Africa with Airtel Africa being the second company to have its ordinary shares listed on both the London Stock Exchange and The Nigerian Stock Exchange. This gives credence to the successful partnership between the two exchanges. I encourage similar situated companies to explore the different opportunities for raising capital on the Exchange’s platform”, Onyema added.
Airtel Africa is 68.3% owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, while existing shareholders include Singapore’s Temasek, Japan’s SoftBank, Singtel, and U.S. investment firm Warburg Pincus.
The leading telecommunications and mobile money services provider is the holding company of Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel Nigeria) and 13 other subsidiaries across Africa, such as Airtel Congo S.A., Airtel Gabon S.A., Celtel Niger S.A., Airtel Congo RDC S.A. (DRC). Airtel Tanzania Plc, Airtel Networks Zambia Plc, Airtel Networks Kenya Limited, Airtel Tchad S.A., Airtel Madagascar S.A, Airtel Malawi Limited, Airtel Rwanda Limited, Airtel Uganda Limited and Airtel (Seychelles) Limited.
Reuters quoted the NSE as clarifying that while Airtel Africa shares registered in Britain may be moved from the London market to Nigeria subject to approval by the custodians in London and foreign exchange rules in Nigeria, those registered in Nigeria cannot be moved to London.
Photo Caption: Segun Ogunsanya, MD/CEO of Airtel Nigeria Plc (fourth right) and Awuneba Ajumogobia, member of Airtel Africa board (third right)) sounding the closing gong on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. With them from left, Olumide Bolumole, Divisional Head, Listing Business, NSE; Efe Efrentin, Acting Managing Director, Quantun Zenith; Prof Kanyinsola Ajayi; Oscar Onyema; Emeka Onwuka, board member, Airtel Nigeria (second right) and Feyi Olusanya, Managing Director, Barclays Securities Nigeria (right).