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Karl Toriola-led MTN Nigeria receives preliminary green-light to operate payment service bank

Both MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa have received approval-in-principle for a service bank license.

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MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola.

Leading telecom operators in Nigeria, Airtel Africa and MTN Nigeria, have each received approval-in-principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate a payment service bank business in the country to drive financial inclusion across income groups in every community.

The approval-in-principle for the service bank license is a step toward a final approval, which is subject to the telecom companies satisfying certain standard conditions within six months for the proposed payment service banks.

According to the regulatory filing issued by the behemoths, MTN Nigeria proposed its Mobile Money Payment Service Bank, while Airtel Africa proposed its subsidiary Smartcash Payment Service Bank Limited to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Final approval will place their banking subsidiaries in the same market segment as leading banks in Nigeria such as Zenith Bank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank, as well as fintech companies like PayStack, Flutterwave, Paga and Piggyvest.

In addition to providing quality financial services to those with financial access in the country, the telecom operators are expected to extend that access to underserved communities and income segments in Nigeria.

Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya stated that the approval-in-principle issued to Smartcash will give the telecom company an opportunity to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria as it moves to meet all the requisite conditions to receive an operating licence.

He added that the licence will enable the telecom operator to expand its digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians who do not yet have access to traditional financial services. This will support the evolving needs of customers and the economy at large, he said.

MTN Nigeria is one of Nigeria’s largest telecommunications services providers, connecting approximately 68 million people in communities across the country.

In the first nine month of 2021, the telecom service provider led by CEO Karl Toriola reported a 23.7-percent increase in revenue to N1.204 trillion, while its fintech revenue led by a subscriber base of 6.6 million increased by 55.2 percent.

While Airtel Africa reported a 25.2-percent increase in revenue to $2.27 billion in the first half of its 2022 financial year, its mobile money subsidiary reported a 42-percent increase in revenue.

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Namibian tycoon Quinton van Rooyen’s Trustco wins round in court against JSE

Shares in the group rose 35.56 percent as a result.

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Quinton van Rooyen.

Trustco Group, an investment holding majority owned by Namibian businessman Quinton van Rooyen and his family, has won a round in court against the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The Pretoria High Court ruled that the company may not be suspended from the JSE until the hearing of its review application in September.

The presiding judge, Nicoline Janse van Nieuwenhuizen, pre-dismissed every argument made against Trustco. The judge issued a decision, in which she ordered the JSE to be interdicted and restrained from suspending Trustco shares from trading on the local bourse.

“The grounds of review are all deserving of a proper hearing in due course, and I am satisfied that Trustco has asserted a prima facie right to fair and just administrative action,” she said in her decision.

In response to the news, shares in the group rose 35.56 percent to R0.61 ($0.0367), from a price of R0.45 ($0.0271) at the start of trading this morning.

The increase in Trustco’s share price pushed its market capitalization above R985 million ($60 million) and the value of van Rooyen’s 63.94-percent stake above R630 million ($38 million).

The court also prohibited the JSE from implementing or attempting to implement the decision that Trustco restate its annual financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, as well as the interim results for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2019.

The legal battle between Trustco and the JSE began on Nov. 11, 2020, when the exchange’s authorities claimed that the company had not met the listing requirements for its 2019 annual financial statements and 2020 interim results.

As part of the allegations, the JSE accused Trustco of violating international accounting standards by misrepresenting features of two loans and reclassifying land that it owns.

Trustco questioned the JSE’s authority to order corporations to amend their financial statements. It claimed that only boards have that authority and stated that all transactions had been “exactly accounted for, reported, and disclosed.”

Amid the legal battle between Trustco and the JSE, wary local bourse investors sold their stakes in the company, fearing a potential delisting of its shares, which caused the share price to crash to an all-time low in July before rebounding recently by double digits.

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Ugandan tycoon Charles Mbire to pocket $1.15-million interim dividend from MTN Uganda

Mbire owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit.

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Charles Mbire.

Ugandan multimillionaire businessman Charles Mbire is on track to receive an interim dividend of Ush4.48 billion ($1.155 million) from his stake in MTN Uganda after the telecom group reported a double-digit percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2022.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s leading telecom service operator.

Mbire, the chairman of MTN Uganda and one of Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen, owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit, which operates as the fourth operating subsidiary of the South African multinational mobile telecom company, MTN Group.

The interim dividend will be paid electronically into his bank account at a later date from the group’s retained earnings of Ush902 billion ($232.4 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year. It is his first dividend from the telecom company since its shares were listed more than eight months ago.

The dividend payment follows a significant rise in the group’s earnings in the first half of 2022 despite a 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue, as it looks set to replicate its stellar performance in 2021.

As a result of the company’s strong financial performance, the board of directors approved the payment of an interim dividend of Ush5 ($0.00128) per share for the six months ending June 30, totaling Ush11.95 billion ($28.9 million), which is subject to withholding taxes.

According to data retrieved from the company’s earnings report for the first six months of 2022, its profit increased by 48.1 percent to Ush193.6 billion ($50.2 million) in the first half of 2022, compared to Ush130.7 billion ($33.7 million) in the first half of 2021.

The double-digit increase in profit can be attributed to a 10-percent surge in the company’s service revenue, which was driven by a significant increase in data and fintech revenue, which were more than sufficient to offset the 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue.

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Billionaire Robert Smith’s Vista to acquire Avalara business software for $8.4 billion

Smith directs Vista’s investment strategy.

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Robert Smith.

Avalara Inc., a leading tax compliance automation provider for businesses, has agreed to be bought by Vista Equity Partners for $8.4 billion.

Vista Equity Partners is a leading global investment firm led by America’s richest Black person, Robert Smith.

The transaction received unanimous approval from the Avalara board of directors and is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions such as shareholder and regulatory approval.

Under the terms of the deal, Vista will acquire all outstanding shares of Avalara common stock for $93.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $8.4 billion, including Avalara’s net debt.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Vista has secured a total of $2.5 billion in loans from private lenders as part of the move to bring in institutional investors as co-investors.

The purchase price represents a 27-percent premium over the company’s closing share price on July 6, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the deal.

“For nearly two decades, Avalara has ambitiously pursued its vision of automating global compliance, making tax less taxing for businesses and governments around the world,” Avalara Co-Founder and CEO Scott McFarlane said.

“As a category leader, we believe that continuing to invest in innovation and experience is exciting for our customers, partners, and employees,” he said. “We are excited to work with Vista and will benefit from their enterprise software expertise as we build and improve our cloud compliance platform.”

After the conclusion of the deal, Avalara shares will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Avalara will become a private company managed by Vista.

Smith has an $8-billion stake in Vista and directs its investment strategy.

He also serves on its executive committee, the company’s governing and decision-making body for all matters affecting overall management and strategic direction. He has supervised more than 570 completed transactions, with a total transaction value of more than $265 billion.

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