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This is what MTN Nigeria’s court postponement means for the company

MTN’s third quarterly report shows significant subscriber growth largely outside of South Africa amidst the postponing of the heavily damaging Nigerian court battle today

As the saga between MTN Group and Nigeria’s Central Back continues to play out in court, the South African based mobile network operator appears hopeful to have the multi-billion dollar lawsuit resolved in the near future, and hopefully forge ahead with the Initial Public Offering (IPO) listing it had hoped for.
This came to light yesterday (Monday) when the telecoms firm made public its quarterly report, which showed significant subscriber growth largely outside of South Africa.
“MTN remains committed to the listing in Nigeria and work continues in this regard,” Africa’s largest mobile operator said ahead of the hearing on Monday. “In the quarter, the group engaged extensively with authorities in Nigeria to deal with the matters they raised.”
However, their hope to have the matter urgently resolved was awfully short lived when a Lagos judge adjourned the hearing to December 4.

Nigeria remains MTN’s top market despite the heavily damaging matter
Despite the pre-paid market in South Africa continuing to remain under pressure, with close to a million pre-paid subscribers lost between June and September this year alone, it’s interesting to observe the support MTN continues to attract, precisely in Nigeria as well as Ghana, which recorded 17% and 23% subscriber growth respectively. This in inspite of the continuing court battle, that saw MTN Nigeria (which accounts to 55 million of MTN’s 223 million overall subscribers) accused of issuing improper dividends to the Johannesburg based company between 2007 and 2015 amounting to US$8,1 billion.
The Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (AGF) added insult to injury when it alleged unpaid taxes on foreign payments and imports by MTN Nigeria of approximately US$2,0 billion. The scandal has been heavily damaging to MTN, which in addition to being fined $1 billion, saw its shares plunged close to 20% in August.

MTN’s overall performance
Across various markets, MTN has the leading network net promoter score in 10 of the 21 markets (across Africa and the Middle East) it operates in. While MTN Uganda showed significant revenue growth of 7,4%, West and Central Africa, as well as MTN Ivory Coast are some of its worst performing markets, with 7,1% and 8,0% growth decline respectively.
Three counties however remain the mobile operator’s top performers, namely Nigeria, Iran, and South Africa, which despite showing a drop in pre-paid subscribers – 834,000 according to reports – it recorded a slight increase of 0,5% in total revenue, all thanks its stronger contract subscriber base, which has since increased by 120, 000 to 5,7 million currently.

Key performance figures

■ Group subscribers increased quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) by 2,5 million to 225,4 million
■ Active data subscribers increased QoQ by 5,0 million* to 74,2 million
■ Active MTN Mobile Money customers increased QoQ by 1,7 million to 25,8 million
■ Group service revenue increased year-on-year (YoY) by 10,0%
■ Group data revenue increased YoY by 23,9%
■ MTN South Africa service revenue increased YoY by 3,0% with an EBITDA margin of 34,5%
■ MTN Nigeria service revenue increased YoY by 17,4% with an EBITDA margin of 43,2%
■ MTN Ghana service revenue increased YoY by 22,9% with an EBITDA margin of 37,6%
■ MTN Irancell service revenue increased YoY by 14,1% with an EBITDA margin of 35,3%

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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