BY Ladesope Ladelokun
MTN Group Limited has concluded all plans set to sell its $534 million stakes in tower assets in West African and East African countries Ghana and Uganda respectively.
Consistent with its plan of meeting its 15 rand asset sales target over three years, the Company says it is considering quitting joint ventures with American Tower Corp., which expanded on the continent with the acquisition of Eaton Towers Ltd. recently.
Bloomberg reports that a disposal of a majority stake in Botswana’s Mascom for $300 million has been scrapped, while shares in e-commerce group Jumia Technologies AG has plunged since an April initial public offering, making it less viable for MTN to sell a stake in the near term.
Meanwhile MTN’s Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter had told Bloomberg in a phone interview that MTN’s Jumia interest was now worth less than $100 million. “It’s regrettable that the value has gone down so much,” he added.
Also, further proceeds could be generated by the redemption of the Nigeria unit’s preference shares, which MTN values at $315 million, Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said on a separate call.
According to a statement on Thursday, MTN has been exploring asset sales while focusing on key markets such as Nigeria,just as revenue in the company’s biggest market shot up by 12% in the third quarter, while the earnings margin was 54%, even as a $2 billion tax dispute looks set to drag on into next year.
In a separate development earlier in the week, MTN Nigeria had transported a 9,100-page document to court in a bid to prove its N3bn claim against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as a tax-related legal battle between MTN Nigeria Communication Limited and Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer rages on.
MTN had through its lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun urged the court to declare that the AGF acted illegally by allegedly usurping the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, to audit and demand remittance of withholding tax and value-added tax.