MTN Group declared 56.8 per cent growth in profit before tax for the financial year ended December 2018 and affirmed its plans to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange latest June this year.
The listing, according to the telecoms company, will be by introduction and hinges on regulatory approval.
The company disclosed that the growth in profits in Nigeria did not include the $53m (R744m) settlement to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and was mainly generated by double-digit growth in services, data and Fin-Tech earnings. It reported a profit before tax of R15.0 bn in the 2018 financial year as against R9.57 bn in 2017.
The telecoms company said the $53m settlement to Nigerian authorities was paid on January 4, 2019, saying it was among the one-off costs that adversely influenced its headline earnings per share.
In Nigeria, the company reported 17.2 per cent growth in service revenue, 39.3 per cent improvement in data revenue, 18.7 per cent growth in voice revenue and 32.7 per cent growth in fintech revenue, that includes airtime lending and e-commerce.
However, the digital revenue of the company underwent a descent of 58.5 per cent in 2018, which was linked to further optimisation of value-added services, but the company declared optimism that there would be digital revenue growth this year.
Considering the key regulatory challenges the telecoms company faced in the Republic of Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria, MTN vowed to enhance its management of regulatory issues.
“Managing regulatory issues and improving relationships and risk management remain key focus areas for the group, and we will continue to strengthen these areas in 2019,” Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shuter, said.
On the results, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Fordi Moolman, said, “MTN plans to list by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 and is looking to simplify the capital structure ahead of this listing.
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Moolman added, “In 2018, we rebuilt the base; adding another six million Nigerians to our network, giving a total of 58 million people access to worldwide communication services.”
The company reported that the legal services delivered to settle the Certificates of Capital Importation dispute with the CBN and the listing on the NSE gulped R194m (N5.32 m).
“This was despite the margin being negatively impacted by once-off legal costs related to the resolution with the CBN as well as the planned listing costs. These costs totalled R194 million,” the financial report stated.
It added, “MTN Nigeria is clearly benefiting from deliberate investments in our network, cost optimisation initiatives and human capital.”
Shuter revealed plans to divest from Jumia, ATC Ghana, IHS towers, ATC Uganda towers and Botswana joint ventures, among others to generate R15bn ($ 1.1 bn) in order to boost its balance sheet.
He said that the group plans to sell its stakes to Econet Wireless Limited for $300m, adding the transaction hinged on various approvals and expected to be concluded by June this year.
He added that MTN’s 53 per cent stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana had been regarded as “non-core in light of the lack of control position and inability therefore to execute the BRIGHT strategy.”