Ray Mahlaka
3 minute read
1 Dec 2016
9:42 am

Blanket of gloom hangs over MTN’s new BEE scheme

Ray Mahlaka

Concerns mount over MTN Zakhele Futhi’s pricing and shareholder value.

Picture: Moneyweb

As MTN’s much-lauded black economic empowerment scheme Zakhele enters the final stages of its maturity, uncertainty is growing in the market about the take-up of the newly formed Zakhele Futhi by investors.

MTN Zakhele Futhi was meant to be another shot for black investors to hitch their wagons on another BEE scheme by the telecommunications behemoth.

Even the 124 000 Zakhele investors – who have stuck it out since the scheme’s inception six years ago and have been handsomely rewarded with a compounded annual growth of about 20% on shares – were invited to re-invest in Zakhele Futhi.

Investors appear to be put off by Zakhele Futhi, if its recent underwhelming public placement is anything to go by.

Zakhele Futhi raised R1.91 billion among new investors and Zakhele investors who reinvested in the scheme –  which was well below the target of R2.5 billion.

Investors were invited to subscribe for shares at R20 and a minimum investment amount of R2 000.  Investment principal at MMI Holdings Riaz Gardee says there could be several reasons behind the take-up of Zakhele Futhi.

“The targeted public could be under pressure and do not have surplus resources for long-term investments. The pricing was also not tempting enough to lure more investors,” Gardee tells Moneyweb.

He adds that it’s arguable whether an 8% discount of shares is adequate to be locked-in to the scheme for eight years.

Zakhele Futhi will run for eight years, with no trade in shares for three years. There will be restrictions on trades for the remainder of the scheme’s period. “Each investor has unique requirements and needs to consider them independently.”

Frustrations with the scheme were exacerbated by how it was structured, with some investors rating the process to subscribe for shares as complicated. As one would-be investor put it: “MTN Zakhele Futhi is a royal mess! We have to prepare for another fiasco.”

The similar names that were chosen for the new and old scheme – Zakhele and Zakhele Futhi – further confused investors.

The formation of another scheme will add to several BEE models that were open to the public by MTN since it launched the Ikageng scheme in 1997.

Arguably, there are jitters about Zakhele Futhi’s underlying investment and only asset, its 4% shareholding in parent company MTN.

MTN’s share price has been volatile since its protracted discussions with the Nigerian government to avert an original fine of $5.2 billion fine, later reduced to $1.67 billion, for failing to deactivate unregistered SIM cards.

When Zakhele Futhi was announced in August, MTN’s share price was trading at R126.34 and is currently at R113.20 – valuing the scheme (it’s 4% stake in MTN) at R8.4 billion from R9.9 billion.

MTN share graph

MTN share graph

As part of Zakhele’s expiry, MTN announced on Tuesday that it has raised R2.3 billion through the placement of 21 million shares. The proceeds will be used to reward Zakhele shareholders, who have opted to cash their shares.

Gardee says the scheme has created value for investors, who initially subscribed for share at R20 in 2010 and the share price has since more than doubled to R51.70/share at the time of writing.

Market watchers say Zakhele investors would get better returns if the Nigeria events didn’t weigh on MTN shares, which subsequently impacted the Zakhele’s share price.

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