Again, Nigeria unit lifts MTN revenue, users numbers

By The Rainbow

MTN Group, the  South African telecoms operator, has said revenue grew by nearly six percent in the first four months of the year, as it added more subscribers particularly in its key Nigerian market.

The mobile company, which has operations in 22 countries, also said on Tuesday it expected to have 200 million users by the middle of 2013, after increasing users by 4 percent to 197.4 million in the January-April period.

MTN's  Chief Executive Officer,  Sifiso Dabengwa, told shareholders at the group's annual general meeting in Roodepoort on Tuesday, that by the end of April, MTN had signed up 197,4m subscribers in the 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East in which it operates.

That represents growth of 4%.
Dabengwa cautioned that volatility in exchange rates was affecting financing costs. 'Mitigating this impact remains a key management focus,' he said.

Group revenue was up by 5,6% year on year, affected by the weak rand. Nigeria revenues rose by 15% as a result of currency movements, even though revenues in that market were down marginally in local currency terms.

Dabengwa said MTN's main focus for the Nigerian operation was to improve network quality and capacity.

'We have made good progress on our capital expenditure roll-out programme and continue our constructive dialogue with the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, regarding its recent determination that MTN Nigeria is a dominant operator in that country, ' he said.

In South Africa, performance was negatively affected by weak consumer demand as well as increased competition.

'The operation maintained its relative share in the first four months of the year,' Dabengwa said. Revenue was flat, underpinned by a relatively strong performance from SMS and data. Operating margins declined marginally compared to 2012, with cost control remaining a 'key focus given the more challenging revenue growth environment'.

'The group's operations in Iran, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda showed healthy growth in both revenue and subscriber for the period,' he said. 'Group data and SMS revenue continued to expand strongly in most markets, increasing their contribution to total group revenue to approximately 18%.'

“MTN Nigeria recorded strong growth in reported revenue for the first four months … supported by strong growth in subscriber numbers and usage,” MTN said in a statement.

The South African unit continued to struggle against increased competition from market leader Vodacom and smaller unlisted rival Cell C, but data revenue underpinned earnings, MTN said.

MTN shares extended losses after the announcement, and were down 0.47 percent to 181.14 rand at 1249GMT.