March 14, 2019 / 6:41 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's MTN aims to expand local shareholding of its Ugandan unit to 20 pct - CEO

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KAMPALA, March 14 (Reuters) - MTN Group’s Uganda unit is looking to boost local shareholding to 20 percent from 4 percent this year, the South African telecoms giant’s Chief Executive Robert Shuter said.

The move to expand local ownership appears a bow to pressure from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who has said he would like the firm to list on the local bourse so some of the firm’s revenues stay in the country.

Shuter said the firm planned to engage in discussions with authorities over how to structure the extra stake sell-off.

“We would like to broaden it (local ownership) in the course of 2019...we would like to target to move it from 4 percent to 20 percent,” Shuter told Ugandan television NTV Uganda Wednesday night.

“What we now need to do is really engage in the market and with the authorities as to what is the demand, how much funds are available, how best to structure that.”

MTN is already in talks with state-owned pension fund NSSF for a potential purchase of the extra stake, added Shuter.

NSSF has assets of more than 7.9 trillion Ugandan shillings ($2.13 billion).

“We’ve been in discussions with the NSSF, this is a potential investor in MTN Uganda...this is a way to get broadbased participation without necessarily having to go through all the complexity of the listing,” Shuter said.

Last month, Uganda deported four MTN Uganda executives including the firm’s top official, Wim Vanhelleputte, accusing them of compromising national security. The firm has also been accused of under-declaring its revenues and causing public revenue losses.

MTN has denied all the accusations. ($1 = 3,713.0000 Ugandan shillings) (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and Shreejay Sinha)

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