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MTN returns to profit-making after turbulent 2016

By NAN   |   03 August 2017   |   5:01 pm  

MTN Group, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, says it has moved away from a turbulent 2016 that highlighted the risks of the company’s emerging markets strategy to a profit-making firm.

MTN said on Thursday in Johannesburg that it’s earnings for first-half of the year had rebounded.

It said that its headline earnings came in at 3.9 billion rand ($294.40 million), or 212 cents per share, in the six months to end June compared with a loss of 4.9 billion rand, or 271 cents per share, a year earlier.

“These numbers give us hope for the future. It is a very encouraging platform upon which to build our strategy,” said Rob Shuter, former Vodafone European head, who became chief executive in March.

MTN’s shares were nearly 3 per cent higher at early trading due to the positive results.

The results were bolstered by the absence of charges related to a $1.1 billion fine imposed by Nigerian authorities last year in a long-running dispute over unregistered SIM cards.

Founded at the end of white rule in 1994, MTN’s clashes with regulators in the past few years had held back growth and threatened to tarnish its image as one of post-apartheid South Africa’s biggest commercial successes.

Shuter’s appointment is expected to put the company back on a growth path with a shift away from basic telecoms services toward the ability of its users to pay bills or watch live football matches on their phones.

MTN has more than 200 million users in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

MTN had said last week that the loss in the first half of last year was mainly due to “non-recurring costs”, including the Nigerian fine.

Shuter, along with his new executive team that includes the new head of M&amp, A Stephen van Coller, and finance head, Ralph Mupita, may have other tricky issues to tackle in Nigeria and also Iran.

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