Provided there is MTN Group, telcos in Africa where MTN has operations will continue to see shadows. Unless you are the likes of Glo Nigeria and Safaricom Kenya with limited continental vision, the challenge will be huge. Yes, if you want to have a pan-African vision, you will be confronted “everywhere you go” with the y’ello brand. Airtel Africa, the Africa business of India’s Bharti Airtel, went to London, doing all to avoid MTN Group. Unfortunately, the London is not far: can you hear me now? Airtel Africa IPO’d in London, raising $750 million on a valuation of $3.93 billion. But quickly, Airtel Africa lost 16% of that value, recording the worst debut on European exchanges this year.
Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s Africa unit plunged in London trading after raising about $750 million in an initial public offering, making it among the worst debuts on European exchanges this year.
Airtel Africa Ltd. dropped as much as 16% to 67 pence per share, matching the first-day decline for OssDsign AB last month. Airtel Africa said it had priced the offering at 80 pence a share, at the low end of its range, giving the company a market capitalization of about 3.1 billion pounds ($3.93 billion). It traded at 69.88 pence as of 11:17 a.m.
Airtel Africa already raised $1.25 billion last year from investors including Temasek Holdings Pte and SoftBank Group Corp., and the company is also planning to pursue a local secondary listing in Nigeria. Bharti is relying more on Africa for growth as prospects for a quick revival of profit in India dim
As Airtel was losing 16% on its $3.93 billion debut number, MTN Nigeria is now valued at $8.5 billion in the Nigerian stock exchange (using official exchange rate). It is now more than 20% of the total market value of the Nigerian Stock Exchange; I pity MTN Nigeria for that record though.
Simply, provided there is MTN Group, Airtel Africa may not get a lot of key investors because most think Africa is MTN nation, and is poised to dominate the telecom market. MTN positioning in critical markets like Nigeria and South Africa will always be in the minds of investors evaluating any other pan-African telecom operator.