MTN Group, a pan-African telecommunications company, has confirmed that it has sold all the shares it held in Jumia Technologies, a New York Stock Exchange-listed e-commerce company serving customers across Africa. MTN announced this as part of its financial results for Q3 of 2020.
The sale of the 18,9% stake that MTN Group held in JUMIA forms part of the telecommunications company's asset realization program.
"MTN Group completed its exit from its 18,9% investment in e-commerce venture Jumia as well as the localization of an 8% shareholding in MTN Zambia, realizing net proceeds of approximately R2,3 billion and R204 million respectively," reads a media statement by MTN Group.
Highs, lows, and accusations
MTN Group selling all the shares it held in JUMIA didn't come as a surprise. The sale had been expected for several years. The sale marked a relationship between MTN Group and JUMIA that started in December 2013 when MTN became a shareholder in the e-commerce company.
Jumia's journey since listing on the NYSE on 12 April 2019 has been a kind of rollercoaster ride filled with accusations, class-action lawsuits, highs, and lows. The most notable high is when the share price reached $40.21 on 26 April 2020, a few weeks after the IPO, raising its valuation to $1 billion.
However, that high was just as short-lived as Jumia's claim of being an African startup, a claim several prominent people in Africa's tech startup ecosystem took exception to after Jumia started marketing itself as "Africa's first tech startup unicorn."
That debate would prove to be the least of Jumia's worries.
During May 2019, barely a month after Jumia listed on the NYSE, Andrew Left, a short-seller and founder of Citron Research, released a report stating that he has a "smoking gun" which proves that Jumia is a fraud and that the stock is worthless. Left's research sent Jumia shares 20% down on the same day he published it. Subsequent publications by Citron Research in the following months would further send Jumia shares on the NYSE down to below $10 a share. Eventually, Citron Research would release a statement in 2020 that it was content that Jumia had addressed the issues they initially raised.
However, given the Citron Research publication which also stated that Jumia omitted some key information from investors in its IPO filing, the e-commerce company faced several class action lawsuits and eventually set aside approximately $5 million to settle these.
All that appears to be water under the bridge as Jumia appears to be on the right growth track given the performance especially of Jumia Pay.
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