MTN Group plans to raise about $500m from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of the year.
This is in its quest to fulfill the terms of a deal struck with the West African nation to settle a record fine, according to people familiar with the matter.
According to them, most of the shares would be sold to local institutions and individuals, though foreign investors could be brought in to ensure the process was a success.
MTN has agreed to list the Nigerian unit as part of a June 2016 agreement to pay a $1bn fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown.
The penalty, originally set at $5.2bn, led to the resignation of the Johannesburg-based company’s CEO at the time, the group’s first ever full-year loss, and a slump in the share price that has yet to be clawed back.
The stock extended gains on Wednesday, and traded 4.5% higher at R128.83 at the close in Johannesburg, giving a market value of R243bn.
However, if successful, the Lagos share sale will be the biggest on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after Starcomms, which raised $796m when it listed in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African governments are trying to gain more from international cellphone operators taking advantage of rising smartphone use and faster data speeds.
MTN has also agreed to sell shares in Ghana as one of the conditions of a deal to gain spectrum rights, while Vodacom, SA’s market leader, was ordered to list 25% of its Tanzanian business last year, raising $213m.