MTN Said to Weigh Selling $500 Million in Shares of Ghana Unit

  • Unit may fetch about $1.5 billion value in private placement
  • Company is approaching high-net-worth Ghanaians to buy shares

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator by sales, is considering selling about $500 million in shares of its Ghana business, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is approaching high-net-worth individuals in the country about a private placement of a 35 percent stake in the Ghana unit, valuing it at about $1.5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final decisions have been made, they said.

The sale would help MTN meet conditions it agreed to last year when it spent $67.5 million for the right to use spectrum that can carry high-speed mobile data for customers in Ghana. The company was granted a 15-year license for fourth-generation spectrum on the condition that 35 percent of the business would be owned by Ghanaian investors.

A representative for Johannesburg-based MTN declined to comment.

MTN said earlier this month it raised more than $1.3 billion from loan agreements as it works to improve its debt structure and support its credit rating. MTN’s move to attract funding comes after the company reported its first-ever half-year loss in August, partly caused by an agreement to settle a record 330 billion naira ($1.1 billion) fine in Nigeria for missing a deadline to disconnect customers.

MTN said Wednesday that it “strongly refutes” an accusation by Nigerian lawmakers that the wireless carrier illegally moved almost $14 billion out of the country over 10 years as the company tries to quell the latest controversy in its largest market.

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