MTN to exit Middle East to focus on Africa

Image: NADINE HUTTON

Africa’s largest mobile operator, MTN, is planning to exit the Middle East to focus more on the continent, with its first move to sell off its 75% stake in MTN Syria.

MTN’s Middle East operations contribute less than 4% to the group’s earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of R41.8bn in its half-year to end-June, while MTN Syria contributed 0.7%.

MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will therefore be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium term

“MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will therefore be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium term,” said CEO Rob Shuter.

Ebidta is a measure of the underlying operational performance of a business, with MTN saying this measure grew 10.9% in constant-currency terms during its first half, and before various one-off items.

MTN’s headline earnings per share (heps) jumped 120.5% to 430c in its half-year to end-June, with the group benefiting from, among other things, positive foreign exchange gains in the period.

Profit after tax rose about 145% to R13.3bn. 

Data revenue expanded by 32.7% in constant-currency terms, as data traffic surged by 91.5%, boosted by the increase in work-from-home and higher levels of online engagement brought about by the effects of Covid-19, the group said.

Subscribers increased by about 4% to 261.5-million.


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