NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel’s Africa subsidiary has raised $750 million through its initial public offering (IPO) on Friday, but the company’s shares plunged 13% in trading debut on the London Stock Exchange. This reflects what analysts said was a difficult market for African telcos.
Bharti Airtel priced Airtel Africa at 80 pence per share, giving it a market capitalization of around $3.9 billion, the parent company said in an exchange filing on Friday.
The offer was oversubscribed with “strong interest" from global investors across the UK, US, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia, the company said, adding that dominant allocation was to global long-only, strategic and pre-IPO investors.
After raising $750 million, Airtel Africa shares fell 13% to 69.88 pence a share as of 11:17am in London in its trading debut, Bloomberg said in a report.
Airtel Africa may be suffering from broader investor unease about telecom carriers in emerging markets, Bloomberg quoted Ally McKinnon, a fund manager at Scottish Investment Trust Plc., who didn’t participate in the IPO, as saying. The IPO comes with a secondary listing on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.
“We are now the first telecom company to simultaneously list on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange through an IPO. We welcome our new investors and look forward to continuing to execute our strategy and deliver the growth opportunities across our markets in voice, data and mobile money," Raghunath Mandava, CEO, Airtel Africa, said in the statement. Bharti Airtel had announced plans to consider an IPO for the Africa business in February 2018, and plans to use the net proceeds from the issue of new shares to reduce $4 billion net debt. Airtel Africa, the holding firm for Bharti Airtel’s operations in 14 countries in the continent, has 100 million customers across three regions—Nigeria; East Africa, comprising Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia; and the rest of Africa, which comprises Niger, Gabon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Seychelles. Nigeria alone accounts for 36% of its total revenue.
Bloomberg contributed to this story.