Exchange lists IHS, telecoms firm\'s 4.4b shares

Exchange lists IHS, telecoms firm\'s 4.4b shares
By Sonny Aragba-Akpore and Gbenga Agbana

DESPITE investors apathy fuelled by collapse of stock markets as a result of the global financial meltdown, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday listed the country\'s major telecommunications infrastructure service provider, IHS Nigeria Plc.

Its entire 4.4 billion shares at N5 are up for grabs. IHS, was licensed in 2001 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as telecoms infrastructure and co-location service providers.

At exactly 1.36 p.m. yesterday, the NSE formally listed by introduction of 4.4 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N5 per share in the name of IHS Nigeria Plc, a telecom infrastructure provider.

With the listing, the market capitalisation of the NSE swelled by N22 billion after dipping significantly since the beginning of the year.

Besides, the company became the first to be listed on the stock exchange this year, thus raising hopes of soonest recovery of the market, and some of the company\'s shares were offered to the stockbrokers for trading yesterday.

Speaking at the listing ceremony, the company Managing Director, Mr. William Saad, who led other members of management said the company is the number one telecom infrastructure provider in Nigeria and is glad to join the league of quoted companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

He told stockbrokers that the company has come a long way, having commenced operation in 2001 and was adjudged the best telecoms infrastructure provider in 2008.

Before the listing, the stockbrokers to the company, PSL Limited, represented by Mr. Bolaji Aderinwale said the company recently concluded a private placement and has fulfilled all regulatory requirements for listing and has paid all the required fees.

In his own remarks, the doyen of stockbrokers, Mr. Olu Odejimi, commended the company for coming to list its shares on the stock exchange even at a time stocks are not doing well, which indicated that the company has confidence in the growth of the market.

With 1,400 turnkay cell sites built by it and 1,000 others under its management for telecommunications operators, IHS has become in less than seven years operators\' operator as all the major telecommunications operators including MTN Nigeria; Globacom; Zain; Starcomms; Telecom among others run some of their operations on IHS infrastructure including masts, towers, base stations, among others.

With about $400 million ploughed into its operations recently, which analysts describe as a major stir in the industry, its owners led by Bashir El-Rufai said they have absolute confidence in the Nigerian economy despite the expressed fears of global financial crunch.

IHS is the first company to be listed on the exchange this year, and it is also the first telecoms instrastructure service provider to be so listed.

El-Rufai said IHS would weather the storm \"because we are ready to let go even as investors in other climes keep vigil over their businesses.\" \"In a time of global economic uncertainty, investors still have to take the risks associated with businesses.\"

Saad stated that the strong belief of IHS in the continuous growth of the telecom sector within the Nigerian economy and the confidence in the management and staff of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, strongly encouraged the board and management of IHS to list on the floor at this crucial period.

The listing follows a successful private placement of the company last year, with a promise to investors and Nigerians that they will benefit from the shares.

Saad reiterated that the company which was one of the first companies to be awarded a Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing licence by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) , has made its mark in the provision of infrastructure by building more than 1,400 full turnkey sites. The company also currently manages more than 1,000 sites for the various operators in the country and has begun the construction of 500 collocation sites (with the first batch of 53 sites completed in November 2008). Saad emphasised that the company which conducts activities in the various states of the federation with a workforce of more than 300 employees and over 100 sub-contractors only recently concluded a very successful, private placement, where investors who are looking for value stocks with strong fundamentals, participated.

IHS commenced operations in 2001 by providing turnkey solutions for telecommunications operators and vendors who seek to build telecommunications infrastructure for fixed and wireless telecommunications services. IHS Nigeria PLC is: ISO 9001:2000 certified and fully licensed by The Nigerian Communications Commission (\"NCC\") to provide Collocation Services.

The company is involved in three main aspects of business namely, telecommunications infrastructure collocation and sharing, infrastructure built and post-construction management (operation and maintenance). A breakdown of the functions of the company shows that under the telecommunications infrastructure build: IHS handles all sides of telecommunications network construction starting from site acquisition and design, equipment supply, all sorts of construction and installation, to finish with integration and testing.

Infrastructure Lease and Collocation: Under this model IHS builds its own sites, and makes them available for all telecom operators, internet service providers, banks and companies, etc ... for their networks use. This method saves these operators huge amount of CAPEX and allows them to focus on quality issues and network coverage.

It is worthy to note that for the purpose of diversification, and due to its belief that the Nigerian Power sector is the next booming sector of the economy, IHS already started doing some business for PHCN and continually seeks other opportunities. The Board of Directors of IHS has El-Rufai (chairman), Saad (managing director), Gbenga Onakomaiya (director/chief commercial officer), Engr. Issam Darwish (director), Moustapha Aminu (director) and Jimoh Umoru (general manager/company secretary).

The competitive advantages of the company lies in its being a contractor that worked for most, if not all, of Nigeria\'s telecommunications operators and vendors as well. The importance it puts on high quality standards and training, being an ISO 9001:2000 certified since 2006 and being a one-stop shop providing all types of services for the telecommunications infrastructure. I H S has a large pool of well trained direct workforce compromising of all backgrounds and has worked in almost every state in the nation with an extensive experience in the Niger Delta area. The company has also displayed its expertise in corporate governance where it prides itself on true values, which include accountability, effectiveness, integrity, and responsibility in compliance with ethical conduct.

Saad disclosed that the company in future is not planning to restrict its expansion to the existing model, but will through direct contracts and partly through joint ventures with different groups as the need may arise, plan to go deeper into the telecommunications sector and target other sectors where synergies can be developed. It will also increase investments in building collocation sites also in 2009 and build sites owned by it to be leased/collocated to Nigeria\'s operators. It will also drive expansion into other African countries and build infrastructure for the electric and power industry in Nigeria and well as explore the possibility of tower and shelter manufacturing in Nigeria.

El-Rufai, recently emphasised that given the modest beginning and the financial projections, the company has shown tremendous potential of becoming a major commercial enterprise.

\"We have carefully chosen a tested and capable management team, led by a well-experienced and knowledgeable Chief Executive Officer. Also, on the current Board are distinguished Nigerians with proven track records in their chosen fields. It is intended that the company will be strengthened to generate high volumes of profitable business in the short and medium term,\" he stated. -ngrguardiannews


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