Yesterday, on the 8th of August, MTN Group announced an impressive set of results for the first quarter of the year, which ended on June 30, 2019, with mobile data subscribers reaching 240 million across 20 African countries, while group revenue increased by 10.2%. This follows the addition of 7.7 million new subscribers in the first six months of the year.
The Nigeria and Ghana markets led this MTN Group earnings in the first half of 2019. MTN Nigeria led the market share with 12.2% growth, MTN Ghana contributed 18.7% to the overall service revenue at $4.48 billion.
On the other hand, the MTN South Africa market posts a meagre 3.3% growth, as impacted by a decline in consumer prepaid revenue as a result of new regulation. The telecom operator witnessed a growth of 12% in adjusted headline earnings per share, and this is the first time that it has seen growth in this measure in recent years.
The number of active MTN data users grew by 3.5 million to 82 million, and its 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2.4 million to 30 million. The continued focus of MTN Group on providing excellent customer experience has seen it record brand NPS leadership across more than 50 percent of the portfolio, with twelve markets now leading.
MTN Group president and CEO, Rob Shuter, speaking on these results, said, “We had a good first half, reporting solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress. 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.
“During the period we had some landmark events. We successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and our e-commerce joint venture Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Within three months of announcing our asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, we delivered R2.1 billion in proceeds.
“Our advanced instant messaging platform, Ayoba, is now live in three of our West African markets and has more than 300, 000 active monthly users. We are very pleased with the formal approval of our super-agent licence in Nigeria, which clears the way for the launch of phase 1 of our Nigeria fintech business while we await a banking licence.
“In Nigeria, economic activity was economic activity was muted in the time of presidential elections and prior to the formation of the cabinet. Notwithstanding this environment, in constant currency terms, service revenue grew by 9.7 per cent to R67.9 billion and EBITDA expanded by 10.2 per cent to R31.2 billion.”
The holding company net debt to EBITDA ratio remained stable at 2.3x, which is well within the Group’s guidance range of 2.0 to 2.5x, and capex intensity dropped further to 16.9 per cent, indicating greater efficiency in deploying assets.
Looking ahead, Shuter said, “MTN is well positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position. 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.”