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MTN Group records $12.4 billion profit, claims 223.4milliom subscribers

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•Expends N30.5b on diesel, N176b on taxes in Nigeria 

DESPITE claiming low performance from its Nigerian arm, MTN Group still reported a revenue growth of 6.4 per cent in 2014 to ZAR146.15 billion ($12.43 billion) and an 8.9 per cent rise in net profit.

   MTN, Africa’s largest telecommunications company by revenue, said data revenue growth and a recovery in its home market helped offset a weaker-than-expected performance in Nigeria, its biggest single market. 

    The group, in its 2014 financial report, released yesterday, in Johannesburg, South Africa, said its data revenue increased by 33.2 per cent in the year, to contribute 18.7 per cent to total revenue at year-end, while MTN South Africa’s performance provided ‘clear evidence in the second half’ of a sustained turnaround in the unit’s fortunes. 

     However, MTN Group said the Nigerian operation’s revenue grew only by 12.1 per cent.

    MTN Group revealed plans in May 2014 to kick-start its geographical expansion in Southeast Asia, having to-date focused primarily on developing its footprint in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). 

    The carrier said is mindful of the need to increase smartphone penetration and boost data revenue, including mobile banking, outside South Africa, where it trails rival Vodacom Group in terms of subscriber numbers. 

    Besides, the company said is also facing price competition and regulatory pressure in markets such as Nigeria; this is even as the arm spent N30.5 billion on diesel in 2014.  

     The company said: “MTN Nigeria’s performance was below expectations, impacted largely by regulatory determinations and economic pressures as well as operational challenges. 

     “Some level of uncertainty remains with regards to the implications of the oil price and currency fluctuations, which may lead to slower economic growth.”    

     Currently, the report informed that Nigeria has 59.9 million MTN subscribers, compared with 28 million in South Africa. The company expects to add 4.75 million more in Nigeria in 2015, up from 3.1 million last year.

     The Group EBITDA increased by 10.2 per cent year-on-year to ZAR65.52 billion, as the company made further progress in its cost optimisation efforts, which it said supported a 1.5 percentage points expansion in the EBITDA margin to 44.8 per cent for the year. 

    It informed that the full-year capital expenditure was ZAR25.24 billion, 16.3 per cent lower than the previous year, despite efforts made last year to roll out 3,669 2G, 6,491 largely co-located 3G and 684 4G sites to facilitate increased voice and data usage on the network.

   The South Africa-based company said that its aggregate subscriber base increased by 7.5 per cent year-on-year to 223.4 million in the year ended 31 December 2014. 

   In addition, at the end of December 2014, MTN had 51.9 million 3G-enabled devices on its networks, an increase of 30.4 per cent on the previous year. Total subscriber numbers are forecast to reach 240.9 million this year across its 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East, an increase of 17.5 million.

    According to MTN Nigeria, it connected 42 per cent of the 7.3 million (3.1 million), amounting to a six per cent increase in subscriber number.

   The report of the Nigerian arm showed that it paid N176 billion in taxes in 2014, while the total payments made to government from inception accrued to  N1.3 trillion.

    The Nigerian arm said its ICT infrastructure supports various critical sectors of the economy – banking, insurance, e-commerce, oil and gas from an infrastructural and product perspective, stressing that it also use its platform to stimulate growth in the creative/entertainment industry.



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