Carrier MTN Group has released its financial results for the year ended December 2018. The telco says that the results met its medium-term goals, cut its holding company leverage and saw service revenue growth.
MTN, which services 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East increased its active subscribers from 217 million to 233 million. The mobile operator says that the number of active mobile data users grew by 10 million to 79 million. While mobile money services saw a jump as well, the number is still low at 27 million across all markets. Nevertheless, overall growth was substantial as it drove a 10.7 percent constant currency jump in service revenue to R125.4 billion (KES 862.4 billion).
“The service revenue growth rate achieved is ahead of both prior year and our guidance and – more importantly – is above the average rate of inflation in our markets, which means we are delivering real growth in service revenue,” said Rob Shuter, MTN’s group president and CEO.
The carrier reports that it will continue to optimize its portfolio. For instance, it reviewed the operations of a handful of its markets, as well as subsidiary companies in the tower and e-commerce business. MTN insists that subsidiary operations have not been prioritized as long-term strategic assets, but will be commercialized over time.
One of the Group’s goals is to realize more than R15 billion in the next three years. At the same time, MTN will drop its associate in Botswana, Mascom, for a reported $300 million fee.
“We have made good progress to improve the holding company leverage bringing it within the medium-term guidance range we set out. Proceeds we receive from the asset realization program will support efforts to further reduce debt and de-lever the holding company balance sheet.” said group CFO Ralph Mupita. “We believe the holding company leverage is appropriate, and we can well manage the debt and deliver on our 500 cents progressive dividend policy in the future.” he added.
The Group has also been subject regulatory tussles with Nigerian authorities. Just the other day, its CEO for the Uganda Branch was deported after it was reported he had violated state laws. To this end, MTN says it has, for the most part, overcome legal squabbles to fully focus on its operations.