Combined service revenues in Nigeria and Ghana have further lifted MTN Group’s growth in the first half (H1) of 2019.
Specifically, the Group service revenue rose 9.7 per cent to R67.8 billion (rand) in constant currency terms, led by 12.2 per cent growth in MTN Nigeria, its second-biggest African market, and 18.7 per cent in MTN Ghana, and 3.3 per cent in MTN South Africa.
The firm disclosed that service revenue in South Africa was hurt by the weak economy and changes in tariffs and subscriber regulations in the first quarter.
MTN, which announced yesterday in Johannesburg, what it described as an encouraging set of results for the six months ended June 30, 2019, in the context of difficult trading conditions across its major markets, said it raised R2.1 billion ($140.24 million) from asset sales as part of a divestment plan announced in March.
MTN is reviewing a raft of investments under the three-year, R15 billion divestment programme as it moves to focus on high-growth markets in the Middle East and Africa.
According to the telecommunications firm, in H1 it sold its shareholder loan in ATC Ghana to American Tower Corp for R900 million, and its interests in an investment fund, Amadeus, and booking website, Travelstart, for R1.2 billion. MTN is also in the process of redeeming MTN Nigeria preference shares for $315 million.
Commenting on the results, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter, said: “We had a good first half, reporting solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress. We saw growth of 12 per cent in adjusted headline earnings per share, which is the first time that we have delivered growth in this measure in recent years. Our service revenue grew just below 10 per cent and EBITDA just above 10 per cent, both on a constant currency basis. Our holding company leverage remains stable at 2.3x, well within our guidance range of 2 to 2.5x. And, as we grew revenue and carefully managed our investment programme, we saw capex intensity drop further, to 16.9 per cent.”
“Commercially, we had strong subscriber growth of 7.7 million in the first six months of the year to reach a total of 240 million subscribers. The number of active data users grew by 3.5 million to 82 million and our 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2.4 million to 30 million. Our continued focus on the customer experience has seen us record brand NPS leadership across more than 50 per cent of the portfolio, with 12 markets now leading. That contributed to MTN being named the most valuable South African brand in the Brand Finance South Africa 50 report and the most admired African brand by Brand Africa 100.”
Shuter further disclosed that within the period, MTN successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and its e-commerce joint venture, Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
He said within three months of MTN announcing its asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, “we delivered R2.1 billion ($140 million) in proceeds.
Shuter further said: “MTN is well-positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position.”
The MNG Group CEO said in the second half, in South Africa, the firm will focus on the continued turnaround of the enterprise business, the recovery of prepaid and the launch of Mobile Money.
“In Nigeria, we will focus on the further rollout of 4G coverage, the launch of Ayoba and Music Time, as well as accelerating our fintech ambitions by fully leveraging our extensive distribution network to offer a range of transfer and payment services to our GSM customer base.
Across the rest of the portfolio we have six focus areas. These are the continued turnaround of our operations in the West and Central Africa region; the resolution of some of the more complicated regulatory situations; the rollout of MusicTime!and Ayoba across the group; the asset realisation programme; launch of our pan-African MTN 4 Good campaign and delivering on our medium-term targets.”