Nigeria’s Attorney General accused the South Africa-based MTN Group of not paying all its taxes in September, and the two sides have yet to reach an agreement.
Thursday 14, March 2019
(Bloomberg) --MTN Group is planning to push ahead with an initial public offering (IPO) of its Nigerian unit once Africa’s biggest wireless carrier resolves a $2 billion tax dispute in the country.
Tobechukwu Okigbo, MTN Spokesman, said,“When the tax matter has been settled, “the board can assign a value to the company and we do an IPO, it is difficult to put a value on it when there is such an issue.”
A court hearing on the matter is scheduled in the country’s commercial capital for 26 March. The dispute has cast doubt on MTN’s long-held plans to list the local unit -- part of a deal to resolve a separate regulatory tussle in 2016.
The parent company has said it would list its local unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange by June this year. “We anticipate it in two phases, listing by introduction and IPO eventually," once the tax issue is cleared, MTN Nigeria Chief Financial Officer Kunle Awobodu said.
According to MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman, the listing by introduction could take place in April or May.
While the tax and IPO issues rumble on, MTN has received an approval in principle to start mobile-payment services in Nigeria, the biggest of its 20 markets around Africa and the Middle East.
Financial services are a key growth market for the carrier due to a scarcity of banks in many parts of the continent and rising take up of smartphones and data services.
MTN will start selling a new smartphone in Nigeria that costs about NGN 18,000 ($49.72), which the company sees as a way of increasing data revenue, according to Moolman.