By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has disclosed that MTN Nigeria was yet to meet the necessary regulatory demands by filling an application with the commission for it to review its plan to embark on an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in Nigeria’s capital market.
The commission made this known over the weekend in statement made available on its website, explaining that neither the telecoms giant nor any of its advisers or representatives has filed any application with the SEC regarding the said IPO.
Founded in 1979, the SEC is the main regulatory institution of the Nigerian capital market, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Finance. While the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) is privately owned and self-regulating, the SEC maintains surveillance over it with the mandate of ensuring orderly and equitable dealings in securities, and protecting the market against insider trading abuses.
Debunking media reports stating it was delaying MTN’s IPO listing on the capital market, the commission said it “wishes to categorically state that the information contained in the said publication is false, misleading and without merit.”
It added that since MTN was yet to file an application as regards the IPO, it was impossible for the telco or any of its representatives to have submitted a request needing a regulatory review.
“The Commission would like to state that MTN Nigeria Limited to the best of the Commission’s knowledge is a Private company limited by shares, and as at the date of this circular, neither MTN Nigeria Limited nor any of its advisers or representatives has filed any application with the SEC regarding the said IPO.
“Given that there is no application from MTN before the Commission, there could not have been a request by MTN or any of its representatives or advisers requiring any form of regulatory review,” the SEC stated.
The commission further stated that it was open to welcoming filings aimed at deepening and broadening the capital market and stands ready to provide the necessary regulatory support.
“If MTN finally files a formal and complete application with the Commission, it would be treated with the usual diligence and urgency that is applicable to all such filings,” the commission said.
“Furthermore, we wish to remind all capital market operators of their duty not to furnish information, which is false, and misleading in any material particular as the Commission would not hesitate to take necessary regulatory actions on any erring market operator. The Commission remains committed to its core mandate of investor protection and maintaining the integrity of the Nigerian capital market,” it added.
MTN’s IPO and debt to NCC
In 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had requested that MTN list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) before its fine could be reduced.
The NCC had fined the telco $1bn in 2015 for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers on its network before the commission’s deadline. However, the fine was later reduced to N330 billion Naira after series of negations.
According to those who should know, the IPO is expected to be used by MTN to pay up its remaining debt. The telco has so far paid N165bn out of the N330bn imposed on it, making the remaining money owed to NCC N165bn.
The IPO is also expected to help in reducing the company’s exposure to FOREX among others.