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By Chijioke Ohuocha

ABUJA: MTN Nigeria has issued a 100 billion naira ($263 mln) fixed rate bond in the first quarter of 2021, due in seven years, under a 200 billion naira bond programme to refinance existing debt and support network expansion.

Yields in Nigeria are at historic lows after the central bank cut rates twice last year to lower borrowing costs for the government, creating opportunities for firms to sell debt at more attractive rates.

The local unit of South Africa’s telecoms group MTN said it issued debt to optimise its funding costs, CFO Modupe Kadri told an analyst call.

Kadri said MTN was looking to repatriate $250 million in outstanding dividend to the group and is hopefully of getting substantial amounts through interventions with authorities. He said the company has been funding capex via foreign trade lines.

Dollar shortages have plagued Nigeria, which is battling stagflation, frustrating businesses and foreign investors seeking to repatriate funds abroad.

“Our priorities for 2021 remain unchanged which is to achieve double-digit revenue growth,” new chief executive Karl Toriola said on the call.

The telecoms firm said on Friday its first-quarter pretax profit rose 33.9% and that it has registered 35 million subscribers, around half of its base, under a Nigerian government directive to tighten SIM registration.





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