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21.03.2009 Business & Finance

MTN to float shares

By gna
MTN to float shares

Mr Brett Goschen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Ghana, has said the telecom market leader in Ghana would float shares in the near future to enable Ghanaians to own part of and share in the success of the company.

He told journalists that the only stumbling block to the floating of shares was the ongoing legal tussle over the ownership of the company, where two individuals had taken MTN to court claiming to be shareholders.

Mr Goshen said when the legal tussle was over shares would be floated to enable Ghanaians to buy into the company and own it.

“We believe that MTN is not truly Ghanaian until it is owned by Ghanaians and that is what drives our decision to offer shares to citizens,” he said.

Mr Goschen said MTN was still weighing the options as to how to float the shares, whether through the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) or through some other means as some financial institutions in country had done.

He, however, noted that floating shares on the GSE would mean setting up a shares management outfit which could add another responsibility to the huge telecom responsibilities. There was also a need to look closely at the capacity of the GSE to handle huge shares from a company like MTN.

Mr Goschen said MTN Ghana was also considering the Nigerian experience of private placements to allow institutions instead of individuals to buy shares into the company, adding that currently MTN junior and senior management as well as executives owned national shares in the company and they gained dividends as the value of the company appreciated.

“MTN is currently the largest company in Ghana in terms of revenue, taxes and profits and that makes it strategic for us to bring the citizens on board in the ownership of the company,” he said.

Touching on the dichotomy between MTN voice and data (GPRS) services, he said even though not everybody was interested in and able to use data service on their phones, he would personally ensure that all MTN simcards were soon configured with data service before they were sold.

“We have tried sending text messages to our subscribers to activate data but that has not been possible across board because not all phones can use data - we will soon start activating data on the simcards even before distribution,” he said.

On the question of whether MTN's second network code 054 would not further congest the network and create more traffic and call quality problems, Mr Goshen said what determines call quality was not the number subscribers where concentration of subscribers was at a point in time.

He said there were some areas where MTN actually had room for more call traffic which were not available because the call concentration in those areas were almost always significantly low.

Touching on 3.5G services, he said MTN would only go commercial with 3.5G when it was sure that the initial areas earmarked for the start, Accra and Kumasi, had enough Universal Mobile Telecom System (UMTS) station to ensure quality 3.5G service.

“Our 3.5G pilot projects indicate that the service is working fine but we are aware of the challenges with our voice calls so we plan not to make our 3.5G services commercial until we are absolutely sure that there is adequate infrastructure in the designated areas, particularly the capital cities across country,” he said.

He said: “I can assure you that we have installed more 3.5G infrastructure than our competitors have but we are still waiting to make it even better before commercialising the service.”