Foreign investors now allowed in telcos IPOs


FOREIGN investors will now be able to buy shares in the upcoming initial public offers (IPO) of telecommunication companies after amendments to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2010 that restricted foreign players in the IPOs.

The Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA) said in a statement yesterday that they were finalising arrangements to enable foreign investors participation in the IPOs following the amendments to the legislation contained in the Finance Bill 2017.

“Appropriate arrangements to enable public participation in the IPOs as envisaged by the above mentioned changes are currently being finalised,” the statement issued by CMSA’s Chief Executive Officer indicated.

East African citizens and companies as well as those operated by people from outside East Africa will now be able to buy shares in the coming IPOs. This new development comes up when Vodacom Tanzania is yet to list its shares at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange after offering 560 million shares at 850/- each in IPO this year.

The company's plan to raise 476 billion shillings ($213.45 million) in the biggest ever share sale that was however restricted to domestic investors. Shares sold through the Vodacom Tanzania IPO were first due to be listed on May 16, but this was postponed to June 12 following a three-week extension of the offer.

Remaining telecommunication firms are racing to comply with the law providing for mandatory listing of at least 25 per cent of their shares on the Dar-es-Salaam Stock Exchange.

Currently three other telecoms - Tigo, Airtel and Maxcom Africa - have already presented prospectus to the regulator for initial public offering. The government hopes the listings will bring more transparency and offer the public a share in the industry's profits which is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.

Tanzania is the second largest telecoms market in East Africa behind Kenya with a penetration of 79 per cent of the total population in 2015 with 40m users. Tanzania, east Africa's secondbiggest economy, posted a 0.9 per cent annual increase in the number of mobile phone subscribers in 2016 to 40.17 million.

As in other African countries, mobile phone use has surged in Tanzania over the past decade, helped by the launch of cheaper smartphones.

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