Nigeria: Law Compelling Telecom Firms to Sell Shares to Citizens Underway

Telecoms

A bill seeking to make it compulsory for all service providers of Global System of Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) divest certain percentages of their shares to Nigerians will soon be presented for legislation in the House of Representatives, Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Rep Herman Hembe (PDP, Benue) has said.

Speaking to newsmen at the National Assembly yesterday, Hembe said that it was incumbent on them to pass legislative reforms that would encourage designated sectors to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

"Telecom operators in Nigeria must get listed on the bourse of the NSE. This sector with a starting market of less than a million in 2000 now caters for over 90 million users and they make huge profits from Nigeria and are mostly not listed on our markets," the lawmaker said.

"MTN for instance got a license in 2001 for the sum of $285 million mostly financed by Nigerian banks. But between January and June of same year, MTN repatriated some $5 billion as profits from Nigerian operation and the Nigerian MTN group accounts for 25 percent of the headline revenues of the MTN group listed on the bourse," he said.

According to the committee, a preliminary extrapolated figure indicated that MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat have about N6.76 trillion in terms of market capitalisation with MTN N2.4 trillion, Airtel N1.55 trillion, Glo N1.70 trillion and Etisalat has N1.1 trillion by second quota of 2012. "If they are listed what they will bring will surpass the present market capitalisation," the legislators argued.

Other sectors the law will cover, according to Hembe, include oil and gas, digital satellite television service providers such as DSTV Multichoice, among others.