The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews in Lagos that the issue needed to be resolved quickly in the interest of both parties and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The Acting Head, Department, Banking & Finance, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State,
Dr. Bamidele Ilo, said the issue had lingered for too long and must be settled.
NAN reports that CBN, in September, said it had investigated the activities of MTN and four banks in connection with what it called “illegally repatriated dividends of $8.1bn between 2007 and 2016.”
Ilo said the issue should be resolved with dispatch, noting that the nation was losing as well as the company.
“The issuance of the MTN Nigeria Initial Public Offering (IPO) and listing of the shares on NSE would have brought a major boost to the market in terms of liquidity and market capitalisation,” Ilo told NAN.
According to him, the listing, if not for the impasse, would ensure further attraction of foreign portfolio investment funds into the economy, especially in a market where primary issues/new listings appear to have dried up in the last one decade.
The don said: “This delay in the issuance of the IPO and listing of the company’s share will definitely have negative implications on the activities of the NSE, as foreign investors may also not have sufficient confidence investing the market.”
Noting that the market had been on the downward trend since the beginning of the year, Ilo said foreign investors were already seeking alternative foreign investment windows due to usual uncertainties often associated with election period.
“It is important that the government finds a way of resolving the matter amicably in a win-win situation.
“The MTN Group needs the Nigeria market, as MTN NG is the largest in the group and it is also the largest GSM network in Nigeria.
“Nigeria also needs MTN NG, not only in terms of the business it does, but also in terms of its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product, tax revenue, employment and potential benefits that will accrue to the nation when its shares are listed,” he added.
Also speaking, Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., stressed the need for government to handle the issue in a way that would not scare foreign investors from coming into Nigeria.
Kurfi said government should introduce incentives such as tax relief to attract more companies into the market.
He also called on the government to encourage companies to list the way Ghana did for the telecommunication companies that needed to upgrade to 4G.
However, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, who teaches Economics also at Olabisi Onabanjo University, said MTN was just using the IPO as a shield or negotiating instrument to force the CBN to reduce the amount or negotiate a favourable way out.
Tella said the recent fund raising activities by the CBN and Ministry of Finance that were quite successful showed that Nigerian economy could not be neglected.
He pointed out that success recorded was an indication of the viability of raising capital in Nigeria, which should serve as incentive for investors like the MTN.
“So, the firm knows it cannot ignore the Nigerian market in fundraising, just as it cannot in marketing of its product.”
Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (Punch)