Currency

Airtel Africa mulls IPO for mobile money unit after currency crashes


Airtel Money is the fastest growing part of the group which saw its profits drop 99.6% in February due to currency devaluations

Airtel Africa is considering an initial public offering of its mobile money arm that could value it at more than $4 billion, according to Bloomberg [subscription needed].

The operator group is experiencing extreme turbulence. Last month it came very close to making a loss as its net profit plummeted by 99.6%. This was primarily down to Nigeria’s decision to unpeg the naira from the US dollar, sending the naira into freefall.

Airtel’s business in Nigeria posted a loss after tax of N137 billion (about €79 million) for the 2023 financial year, despite its service revenue increasing 22.4% to N2.5 trillion.

Until the naira was unhitched from the dollar last summer, Nigeria was Airtel Africa’s most profitable market.

Currency problems were added to by Malawi devaluing the Kwacha in November.

Fastest growing unit

The mobile money business is the fastest growing part of Airtel. In the nine months to the end of last December, its customer base grew by 19.5% to 37.5 million. Revenues grew even faster, by almost 32% in constant currency terms in the same period.

The report says the operator could float the unit this year and is already in discussions with potential advisors. It is apparently also looking at stock exchanges from London to mainland Europe, the UEA and beyond for the flotation.

Perhaps investor’s in the mobile money service are keen to salvage their investment: in 2021 from Mastercard to the tune of $100 million and $200 million from TPG.



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