MIXED FEELINGS AS MTN OFFERS UGANDANS THE LARGEST IPO ON THE UGANDA SECURITIES EXCHANGE

  • Considered  the largest IPO on the Ugandan market and will be delivered primarily through a digital paperless/ green platform which is the first of its kind in East Africa. 
  • Uganda government forced the company to list on USE in public interest
  • The offer and listing of MTN Uganda is in line with MTN Group’s localisation plans to drive local ownership in the markets within which MTN operates. 
  • It is also in line with the policy objectives of the Government of Uganda as articulated in the National Broadband Policy (2018)and the Uganda Communication (Licensing) Regulations S. I No. 95 of 2019.

MTN Uganda  has announced their  intention to proceed with an initial public offer (IPO) and subsequently list on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) after the government of Uganda obliged the multi billion mobile telephone  operator to do so in the public interest of its subscribers and the country’s economy.  The listing was a condition that had to be met as government renewed the company’s license .

MTN now says its ready to float shares on the USE  after the requisite approval by the Capital Markets Authority and Uganda Securities Exchange for MTN Group to sell 20% of its shareholding in MTN Uganda to the public. MTN Group owns 96% of MTN Uganda.

In a statement released by MTN  it stated that the listing is in line with the Group’s strategic priority to create shared value, partly through ensuring broad-based ownership in its operating subsidiaries. It is also in line with the provisions of MTN Uganda’s NTO licence, which require its listing by end-June 2022.

“The intention to float announcement is a major step towards delivering on our plan to list on the USE,” said Charles Mbire, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, MTN Uganda. “It is a reaffirmation of our long-term commitment to expand investment opportunities for Ugandans and we look forward to continuing our engagement with the CMA and USE to take forward the IPO and the listing.”

MTN Group Vice President for Southern and East Africa Yolanda Cuba called the planned listing a milestone: “Over the last 23 years, the people of Uganda have embraced MTN as their own and given us the legitimacy to operate throughout this country. We are reciprocating by inviting Ugandans to share in the ownership of the success that we have built together.”

But financial experts called for more explanation about the MTN IPO.” Its not a growth offering . The company is not raising money to grow its business rather to pay its shareholders . As an entrepreneur I don’t generally like these kinds of deals where I ‘am a replacement for someone who has already made their money .” Mr. Livingstone Mukasa a financial advisor stated in a detailed analysis of the offering that went viral on social media .

He also questioned MTN ownership and noted that given its debt ratio MTN could give as low at 9% in dividends or nothing at all. “The convoluted nature of MTN ownership makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Even if I am a minority shareholder I like to know the people I am doing business with . MTN ownership structure involves four companies (as in one company owns the other ) before you get to MTN Uganda Ltd. In that case its hard to know who calls the real shorts . this has tremendous implications in business because without knowing who they are , they become hard to influence,” Mukasa reasoned .

Others said that MTN was not disclosing all the information about its balance sheet which is key for a transparent company adhering to good corporate governance . ” I am surprised by declared the net asset value of MTN. Shs. 791bn is only $210m I thought MTN Ug was more valuable . Maybe i am missing something but that’s more or less what they pay in taxes each year !,” an economists who declined to be named said.

In 1998, MTN Uganda commenced the rollout of its infrastructure and services. It says that they  provided affordable access to the people through a widespread voice and data network, investing UGX3.5 trillion in infrastructure development across the 134 districts of Uganda, both rural and urban. “To facilitate universal access, we continue to contribute 2% of our gross annual revenue to the Uganda Communication Commission.”

Currently  MTN covers 97% of the country’s population and have over 6,000km of fibre connectivity to provide the voice and data bandwidth that connects more than 15 million subscribers in Uganda and across the world.

There has been remarkable growth and mobile penetration in Uganda from 0.27% in 1998 to 67% as of March 202.

MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) has also revolutionised the financial landscape. Formal financial inclusion has nearly doubled from 28% in 2009 when MoMo was introduced in Uganda to 58% as of 2018.

MTN Uganda contributes an annual average of approximately UGX700 billion to the government treasury through taxes paid .The company says it has over 1,000 direct employees and employ another 150,000 indirectly.

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