Airtel Africa PLC (LON:AAF) had a dismal start to trading in its London stock market debut on Friday with shares falling below the offer price.
Africa’s second-largest mobile operator had priced its initial public offering at 80p – the bottom of its previously announced 80-100p range – that valued the business at around £3.1bn.
Around noon, the shares were changing hands at 68.2p.
The company raised £595mln through the IPO, which represents about 19% of its stock. It plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt.
In October, Airtel secured US$1.25bn from a consortium of investors including Singapore’s Temasek, Softbank, Singapore Telecommunications and private equity house Warburg Pincus at a valuation of about US$4.4bn. Earlier this year, it received a US$200mln investment from Qatar Investment Authority, brining its valuation closer to US$5bn.
Airtel, which operates a telecoms and mobile money business across 14 African countries, announced its IPO in May.
Chief executive Raghunath Mandava said in a statement before the market opened on Friday: "We are delighted by the strong response we have received from the many high-quality investors from around the world.”
He added: “We are now the first telecom company to simultaneously list on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange through an IPO.
“We welcome our new investors and look forward to continuing to execute our strategy and deliver the growth opportunities across our markets in voice, data and mobile money."