MTN Ghana’s IPO Set to ‘Lift the Gloom’ From Accra Stock Market

(Bloomberg) -- Accra’s share market is poised for a massive boost in liquidity Wednesday after shares started trading in MTN Group Ltd.’s local unit.

While MTN sold only about a third of the shares available in the initial public offering, the 1.1 billion cedis ($239 million) raised is still more than three times larger than the next biggest Ghana IPO. The sale attracted thousands of individual investors and vastly increases the number of shares available for buying and selling.

“It’s been exciting because investors have been crying for such blue-chip stocks to be on the market,” Nana Kofi Agyeman Gyamfi, a senior analyst at Accra-based Bora Capital Advisors Ltd., said by phone. “The IPO got a lot of retail investors, some of whom sold stakes in existing shares just to have enough money to buy MTN. It will lift the gloom on the market because of the past four years’ poor performance.”

MTN Ghana’s IPO Set to ‘Lift the Gloom’ From Accra Stock Market

Africa’s largest mobile-phone company sold 1.5 billion shares in its Ghana unit at 75 pesewas each, a large addition to potential volumes on a market where 323 million shares were traded in the whole of 2017, according to data from the bourse. Of the 128,152 new shareholders who bought stock in MTN Ghana, 127,653 are retail investors. The exchange had 976,068 investors in equity and debt securities last year.

On Wednesday, the stock closed unchanged after more than 5 million shares were traded.

The debut comes as MTN fights billions of dollars in claims from Nigeria, which has ordered the Johannesburg-based company to refund $8.1 billion it says was repatriated improperly from the country and pay about $2 billion in back taxes.

“The large size of the MTN offer will boost liquidity in the local equities market,” Kofi Yamoah, managing director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, said in March. “It adds a key new sector to attract investors. MTN is a company a lot of people identify with because they use their product.”

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