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MTN Uganda’s new journey

Paul Bwiso, CEO USE, Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of ICT, Charles Mbire, chairman MTN Uganda, Anne Juuko, CEO Stanbic Bank, South African High Commissioner to Uganda, Lulama Mary-Theresa Xingwana, Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda CEO, Richard Byarugaba, MD NSSF ring the bell symbolizing MTN Uganda’s official trading on the USE on Dec.06.

The telco raised Shs535.9bn in undersubscribed IPO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The South African telecom subsidiary in Uganda, MTN, began a new journey on Dec.06, with the listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange, and the share price surging past the IPO price during the first week of trading.

The company’s share price increased by an average of 2% to Shs204 during the entire week, signaling strong confidence in the telco on the bourse.

It raised Shs535.9 billion after floating a 20% stake in an IPO that was the biggest in the East African nation’s history, doubling the Kampala market’s capitalization.

MTN Chief Executive Officer, Wim Vanhelleputte, said the offer increased local Ugandan ownership from 4% to 15%. He said, under subscription was a result of ‘negativity’ during the six-week sale period and that the remaining 7% stake will be sold within three years.

The South African-based MTN Group Ltd. cut its 96% stake by 13%, against an initial target of 20%.

“A lot of people thought that MTN was not going to succeed, even during the opening period of the offer, there was a lot of negativities, a lot of misunderstanding around the facts and figures,” Vanhelleputte said.

He said, the new development is meant to align with the Uganda Communications Commission’s new licensing requirement for broad-based ownership by Ugandans whose compliance deadline is mid-2022.

UCC Executive Director, Irene Sewankambo, said it will take long and a lot of effort to make the Ugandan public appreciate the financial market because, apart from lack of knowledge, there is too much misinformation via social media.

Anne Juuko, chief executive of Stanbic Bank, whose subsidiary, SBG securities acted as a lead sponsoring broker and the bank as a transaction advisor said, the IPO attracted 21,394 applicants, of which 20,894 were Ugandans.

She said, of the total share applicants, 87% of Ugandan investors were allocated shares. The east African and retail investors were allocated 9% and 10%, respectively.

USE acting chairman, Richard Byarugaba, said the private investors should learn from MTN experience that there is a lot of money for capital through the stock market instead of going for expensive commercial bank loans.

Keith Kalyegira, CEO at the Capital Markets Authority said the new listing raises the country’s hopes to attract foreign capital, especially from global fund managers.

“The listing is quite significant as it draws the Uganda market closer to being categorized as a frontier market by the different providers of different categorization indices and particularly Morgan Stanley Capital International,” he said.

Data costs and quality issues

Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance said, MTN should not relax on its mandate now that they have fulfilled a major requirement.

He specifically spoke about the high cost of data and poor quality of voice calls, saying that Parliament has summoned him over the matter.

He said, that apart from the local person to person communications, the high costs of data are affecting job creation as Business Outsourcing relies heavily on the affordability of the internet.

MTN started its operations in Uganda in 1998 and now covers 97% of the country’s population. The telco has more than 6,000km of fibre connectivity and is providing voice and data bandwidth connecting more than 15 million subscribers.

The company has consistently recorded growth in profits in the past five years, riding mainly on data and mobile money services.  It recorded Shs96.3 billion in 2016; Shs 152.6billion in 2017; and Shs 219.5billion in 2018 as profit after tax.  The company also recorded Shs269.2billion in 2019 and Shs 321.6billion in 2020.

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