Vodafone must go public – GSE

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) has called for the public listing of Vodafone Ghana, one the largest telecoms players in the country, after its acquisition of a 4G licence.

“Vodafone Ghana should be made to go public,” Kofi Yamoah, the GSE’s Managing Director said in an attempt to nudge the telecoms industry regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), to apply the rules it enforced to get MTN publicly listed last year.

As part of the requirement for deploying 4G technology, the regulator had a clause in the bidding document that enjoins a winning company to list 25 percent of its shares on the GSE for the benefit of Ghanaians.

With government owning a 30 percent stake in Vodafone, which won the bid last year and is set to pay US$30million for the LTE technology, the company’s Chief Executive, Yolanda Cuba, stated recently that the business has already met this requirement due to government’s ownership.

“We are not listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange. As it stands now, Ghanaians own 30 percent of the company through the government of Ghana; this far exceeds the percentage required for listing so we have already satisfied that criteria,” she said.

But Mr. Yamoah, speaking at a press briefing on the stock market’s performance in 2018, noted that even though government owns a 30 percent stake in Vodafone, he does not describe or see such ownership as public.

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“I would not describe that as public ownership. I would describe public ownership as one that the general public is holding [individual or retail and institutional investors or shareholding]. Otherwise, all the state-owned enterprises should be described as public, but they are not public realistically. We want them to be public-listed securities,” he said.

He also pointed out that getting Vodafone to join MTN on the bourse will not just lure other businesses onto the market, but create another equity that the country’s growing pensions funds can invest in and offer better returns when Ghanaians retire.

“You are contributing to pensions, and you must make sure that your pension funds get some of the juiciest companies to invest in so they can grow. If pension funds cannot get very good securities to invest in, then they cannot grow their pensions.

“Also if all investments are directed toward government instruments, it is not economic activity as much as these funds going to businesses that can expand and bring in infrastructure. Some of these entities must go public for the investing public to benefit,” he added.

Stock market’s 2018 performance

With strong interest from corporates for the issuance of fixed income securities and rights and bonus issues by listed banks toward meeting the new GH¢400million capital requirement, the GSE Composite Index was flat at -0.29percent; with the financial index recording a loss of 6.79 percent as compared to positives of 52.73 percent and 49.51 percent respectively in 2017.

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In 2018, the telecoms sector for the first time had representation on the bourse with the listing of the biggest telecoms company MTN, while three non-performing equity securities were de-listed.

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