Airtel Africa is exploring taking its mobile money unit public, with a potential valuation surpassing $4 billion, according to a new Bloomberg report. Talks of the IPO are in preliminary stages and the company may decide against going public.

Airtel Money is Airtel Africa’s fastest-growing arm. While Airtel’s 2023 profits plunged by almost 99%—recording $2 million in profits compared with the $523 million it made in 2022—due to currency devaluation, Airtel mobile money recorded a 31.8% revenue growth

In 2021, Airtel hinted at a possible public offering for its fintech arm within a few years, after receiving investments from TPG—$200 million—and Mastercard—$100 million—valuing the unit at $2.65 billion.

The telco currently offers its mobile money services in 14 African countries. In Nigeria, it competes with MTN Momo, while it is dwarfed by competition from Kenya’s mobile money giant, M-Pesa.  Last year, it received approval to allow customers to transact up to KES 500,000 ($3,400) up from KES 300,000 ($2,085) which it was previously allowed to do. 

Airtel’s planned mobile money IPO follows a trend of investment in African mobile mobile money providers. Two years after its $100 million investment in Airtel Money, Mastercard acquired a minor stake in MTN’s mobile money arm.

Faith Omoniyi Reporter

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