MTN Group Ltd. plans to raise about $500 million from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of the year, fulfilling the terms of a deal struck with the West African nation to settle a record fine, according to people familiar with the matter.
Spokespeople for MTN and Citigroup in Johannesburg didn’t comment. Standard Bank didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
The stock extended gains on Wednesday, and traded 4.5 percent higher at 128.83 rand as of the close in Johannesburg, giving a market value of 243 billion rand ($20 billion).
If successful, the Lagos share sale will be the biggest on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after Starcomms Plc, which raised $796 million when it listed in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. MTN, Nigeria’s biggest mobile-phone company with just over 50 million subscribers as of end September, slumped to a loss in 2016 as it absorbed the financial impact of the fine, though said last month it returned to profit the following year.
Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African governments are trying to gain more from international mobile-phone 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 Group Ltd., South Africa’s market leader, was ordered to list 25 percent of its Tanzanian business last year, raising $213 million.
MTN had 230.2 million subscribers in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East as of the end of September, with Nigeria, Iran and South Africa its three biggest markets.