Africa’s first billion-dollar tech IPO on a major exchange may be imminent. Nigerian digital payments company Interswitch will likely go public on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2016, sources confirm.
The Lagos based fintech firm, majority owned by private equity group Helios Investment Partners, provides much of Nigeria’s digital finance infrastructure. Founded in 2002, Interswitch’s product platforms process the bulk of the country’s growing volume in electronic bank, government, and corporate financial transactions. In personal finance, 32 million consumers use the company’s Verve chip and PIN cards, while its Quickteller digital payment app processed $2.4 billion in transactions.
On a pending IPO, Interswitch CEO and founder Mitchell Elegbe confirmed, “a dual-listing on the London and Lagos stock exchange is an option on the table. But “It’s not the only one,” he explained, “to facilitate potential exits” by the company’s private equity investors. “We are also looking at a possible trade sale,” Elegbe said on a telephone call from Lagos.
Though Interswitch’s CEO would not confirm a 2016 IPO, two sources said the company’s listing is imminent.
“They’ve already selected the ibankers and will likely go public sometime between Q2 to Q4 at (or close to) a $1 billion dollar valuation–roughly two times revenues,” said Eghosa Omoigui, Managing Partner of EchoVC, a Silicon Valley fund investing in African startups.
“This is similar to what I’ve heard,” said a another Nigerian startup head who asked not to be named, but whose company is also backed by one of Interswitch’s investors. “Look for them to launch on the LSE in 2016, just north of $1 billion,” the source confirmed.
Any billion dollar liquidity event, whether an IPO or trade sale, would mark a milestone for African tech, which to date has produced only a handful of exits and no major public listing.