SEC approves Airtel Africa’s listing on NSE

By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has finally approved the planned secondary listing of Airtel Africa Plc on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

A source close to the transaction told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the commission granted the approval on Friday, July 5.

The source said with the approval by the apex capital market regulator, the listing of Airtel Africa on the nation’s bourse would now be on July 8.

NAN reports that Airtel Africa’s listing has generated concerns in some quarters: while SEC awaited the company’s documentation the NSE on July 4 said it would be listed on July 5.

But the NSE in a mail on July 5 announced postponement of  the listing to the surprise of the capital market community.

It said that the postponement was necessitated by the need to ensure that the company satisfied all the post NSE approval pre-requisites for listing on NSE.

However, the Facts Before the Listing event scheduled on the NSE still held on July 5 as earlier scheduled.

NAN also reports that NSE granted a waiver to Airtel Africa to list its shares on the exchange without meeting the minimum requirement of 300 shareholders as at the day the listing was approved by the national council of the NSE.

Speaking in an interactive session with journalists recently, the Head, Listing Regulation of the NSE, Mr Godstime Iwenekhai, said after the book building by the company, about 130 shareholders subscribed to issue, which is below the 300 shareholders requirement of the exchange.

Iwenekhai said the firm had a free float of 25 per cent across the London stock exchange and the NSE, above the exchange requirement of 10 per cent for cross boarder listing.

Free float refers to the portion of shares of a company that are in the hands of public investors as opposed to locked-in stock held by promoters, controlling-interest investors, or governments.

Iwenekhai explained that the rules of the NSE’s cross boarder listing was developed in such a way that it could grant exemption or waivers to attract cross boarder listing to the exchange and deepen the market.

“The exchange cross boarder listing requirements rule also grants the exchange the powers to give exemption or waivers in every part of the rule because the rule is developed in such a way to attract cross boarder listing to the exchange.

“We have the requirements that we feel we can deploy to attract such big and foreign companies to Nigeria, the rule as approved by the SEC gives the exchange the power to grant such requirement.

According to the him, the waiver was granted considering the fact Airtel has also listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and must have complied with the stringent listing requirement in the foreign destinations. (NAN)