Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) of Namibia will be availing 29 percent of its shares to the general public by the end of the second quarter of 2018, ahead of its listing in Namibia Stock Exchange.Acting-CEO Thinus Smit revealed on Wednesday that the mobile network operator plans to float 49 percent of shares in NSX, out of which 29 percent will be offered to the general public.
He said the public will have to buy shares on an initial public offering in the secondary market.
Smit made the announcement in Windhoek during the official launch of MTC Interact, a consumer engagement platform.
MTC Interact is aimed at enlightening customers and stakeholders about pertinent issues, including data pricing, shareholding issues, and the company’s new business strategy and realignment efforts to be able to cater for the needs of its 2.4 million customers.
MTC shareholding has been a subject of interest lately, since the government put in a motion to buy back 34 percent of the company shares from a foreign entity, Samba Luxco, registered in Luxembourg.
The country’s biggest network operator is owned by state-owned entity, the Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH) with 66 percent, and Samba Luxco.
Initially, NPTH, Telia and Swedfund owned MTC when it was established in 1995. The state entity took over full control of MTC after it bought the combined 49 percent held by Telia and Swedfund.
In 2006, it sold 34% stakes to Portugal Telecom for R1.34 billion, as the technical partner.
But the Namibia government was thrown off balance when Portugal Telecom swapped its ownership in MTC Namibia to Samba Luxco, following a dispute.
Portugal Telecom and Samba Luxco were partners in Africatel, with the latter owning 25 percent through its investment company, Helio. But boardroom squabbles started when Oi, parent company of Portugal Telecom, started to offload its assets in Brazil to settle debt.
Samba Luxco went to international arbitration, when the Brazilian telecom giant wanted to sell Portugal Telecom including Africatel. The Luxembourg-based company argued that Oi bought it out of Africatel at an agreed price, before it sold off the assets.
Oi later opted to cede its 34 percent ownership in MTC, in return that Samba Luxco cuts its shares in Africatel to 14 percent.
However, this did not go down well with the government, which felt that it was not proper for the shares to be passed on to another foreign entity.
The Cabinet has since tasked the Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings to buy back the 34 percent of MTC from Samba Luxco.
The government has also asked the Government Institution Pension Fund (GIPF) to fund the transaction estimated to be worth around R3 billion.
The process stalled after the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) ruled against the government’s effort to be the sole owner of MTC Namibia, and instead advised that the share be sold through the NSX.
Meanwhile, the GIPF has confirmed receiving request from government to help with the acquisition of the shares.
Daylight Ekandjo, the fund’s spokesperson, on Wednesday told the media that GIPF is studying the government’s request to determine whether to invest in MTC.