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South Africa’s MTN telco to exit Mid-East

August 7, 2020

By Chris Forrester

MTN Group, in reporting its latest financials, told investors that it will exit its cellular businesses in the Middle East over the medium term in order to concentrate on Africa. Stage 1, it says, is that it is in talks to sell its majority 75 per cent stake in MTN Syria.

MTN Group was previously known as M-Cell. Headquartered in Johannesburg it operates in Africa, Europe and Asia/Mid-East and some 20 countries overall. It claims to be the 8th-largest telco on the planet and one of Africa’s ‘most admired brands’.

MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said the company has prioritised looking after its people, customers and networks while focusing on efficiencies, adding that work-from-home programmes continue for MTN staff, Y’ello Hope Packages are helping ease customers financial pressures, and MTN is supporting other initiatives to limit the effect of Covid-19 on society.

Despite lockdown restrictions affecting network roll-out, MTN Group invested ZAR 10 billion in capital expenditure throughout its markets and brought another 54 million people under 3G and 4G coverage. The focus on data affordability reduced the average rate per megabyte by 34 per cent. The group also made progress in its asset realisation programme, concluding the disposal of the tower company investments in Ghana and Uganda for ZAR 8.8 billion.

MTN Group reported service revenue growth of 9.4 per cent to ZAR 80 billion in the first six months to June 30th, and EBITDA up 10.9 per cent year-on-year to ZAR 42 billion, as efficiency initiatives drove improvement in margins.

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