By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
Contrary to the thinking in certain quarters that everything is presently on course to see Africa’s biggest telecommunications sector player list on the trading floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the next few weeks, an analyst with a very good understanding of the internal workings of the firm, says any such hopeful thinking is absolutely off the mark.
The analyst who spoke to The Difference in Lagos on Monday on condition of anonymity averred that there is really nothing that favours Nigerian in the thinking of the leading lights of the company, affirming that at its base, MTN is essentially a South African company that is out to maximise profits for its South African owners through its business dealings in Africa’s largest economy.
‘I can assure you that MTN will not be in a hurry to be listed on the NSE. The listing has been on the table for a long time but the South African owners do not want to be listed because they are afraid of a situation where Nigerian businessmen will take over the company via a boardroom coup in the future. They understand that if push comes to shove there are Nigerians that can raise the money to buy them out and take over the running of the company and when this happens it will be a matter of time before the company is destroyed. I can tell you that the South Africans will delay this listing for as long as they can.’
Urging our correspondent to look out for further twists and turns in the unfolding saga, he went on to highlight a possible scenario on how things would proceed in the next few weeks.
‘The man that is appointed as the next CEO of MTN Nigeria will point the way very clearly as to the thinking of the South Africans in this regard. If a non-Nigerian emerges as CEO then its safe to say that the listing will take a back seat as they will then proceed to pay up the fine and recoup the money before going ahead to do anything on the listing. But if they appoint a Nigerian, that will suggest that they may be willing to play ball as the Nigerian authorities want. The only problem in this regard is that there is at the moment no NIgerian high up in the organogram of the company that looks like he or she will get the nod to take over after the experience with Micheal Ikpoki, the last NIgerian-born CEO.
Ms. Amina Oyagbola who is presently about the highest ranking executive with Nigerian roots has presently been moved from Human Resources to Corporate affairs to focus on helping to correct what the leading lights of the firm are yet insisting was a corporate gafe that had led to the fine in the first place. She comes from a banking background but the body language presently is not looking like she may be entrusted with the job to manage the overall organization. This then suggests that the next CEO might yet be a South African which means a lowering of any envisaged focus in the corporate goal post to list MTN on the NSE.’