Why Interswitch has not Made Good its Promise to go Public

In 2016, speculations were rife that Interswitch, a payment processing firm based in Lagos, Nigeria, would be the first African tech firm to be listed both on the Lagos and London stock exchanges. The tech firm would be listed at a $1 billion valuation. All indicators were right, Interswitch had selected investment bankers, and Helios Investment Partner stood by the company as a primary backer.
Almost two years later, Interswitch has not gone public; neither has any other VC backed African tech firm. TechCrunch sought to establish why Interswitch has not made good its promise. However, it appeared as if Interswitch is unwilling to discuss the matter as the spokesperson for the tech firm reserved their comments regarding the pending IPO. Nevertheless, TechCrunch found out that Interswitch had partly addressed the matter in the last quarter of 2016. Through Akeem Lawal, Interswitch divisional officer, Interswitch had blamed “unfavorable equity markets,” while affirming it would go public before the end of 2019.
In pursuit of more information on Interswitch’s delay to go public, TechCrunch sought the opinions of some Nigerian tech insiders. Also, TechCrunch wanted to establish whether another company could be publicly listed before Interswitch.
Tayo Oviosu, the CEO of Paga—a Nigerian mobile money firm—suspects that Interswitch had not gone public owing to macroeconomic dynamics in Nigeria. He added that 2016 was unfavorable economically to launch an IPO. The weak Naira made it impossible to fetch a reasonable IPO valuation or opening share price. Consequently, Interswitch would have been valued lower than its actual market standing. Omobola Johnson, a senior partner at TLCom Capital, echoed Oviosu sentiments. Apparently, all analysts agree that 2016 was a bad year for a private company to go public. Johnson is also a former Minister of Communication Technology.
While Interswitch remains capable of going public anytime, Johnson named some companies which he believes might be listed soon. They include Andela and Flutterwave and Kenya’s Twiga Foods. Nigeria’s 2017 economic outlook is a marked improvement from 2016.