South Africa’s telecommunications giant MTN has bounced back to profitability as the company’s headline hit 3.3 billion rand ($278.2 million) for the 12 months ended December 2017. The company made a 1.4 billion rand loss in 2016 due to a $1 billion fine imposed on its Nigerian arm.
Headline earnings per share (HEPS) were 182 cents in 2017 compared to a 77 cents headline loss per share in 2016. 2016’s performance was impacted by the 500 cents fine imposed on MTN Nigeria. The board has declared a final dividend of 450 cents per share.
MTN was fined $5.1 billion in 2015 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect improperly registered sim cards. After diplomatic intervention, the fine was reduced to $1 billion, payable in tranches. The company was however mandated to tender an apology to the Nigerian government, and list on the stock exchange.
The company stated that it had continued to make progress on its Nigerian listing and was awaiting a Corporate Governance score from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). This would enable the company to be listed on the NSE’s Premium Board. The listing is expected to take place in 2018, subject to market conditions and regulatory approval.
Nigeria maintains its key role
Nigerian operations continue to play a key role, as MTN Nigeria accounted for 27.2% of the revenue earned in 2017. MTN had 52.3 million subscribers in Nigeria as at December 2017, making it the country’s largest telecommunications operator. Total revenue increased by 11.4% driven by strong data growth. Revenue from data, increased by 86.6%, while digital revenue decreased by 3.5%.
MTN (formerly known as M-Cell) was founded in 1994, and currently has over 200 million subscribers across Africa and Asia, making it one of the three largest telecommunications firms in Africa.