After turbulence, MTN records significant profit

MTN Group, South African telecommunications company, says it has recovered from the losses suffered in 2016 and recorded profit in the first half of 2017.

In 2016, the company recorded its first loss in its 22 years existence and blamed the N330 billion regulatory fine imposed on it by the federal government for the loss.

The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) imposed the fine on the telecommunication giant over its failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards.

Speaking in Johannesburg on Thursday, Rob Shuter, MTN’s chief executive officer, said the company’s 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. In Nigeria we have a +70,4% data revenue growth,” Shuter said.

Founded at the end of white rule in 1994, MTN’s clashes with regulators in Rwanda, Nigeria and other countries in the past few years had held back growth.

Shuter, who was appointed in March 2017, 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’s shares were nearly three percent higher at early trading due to the positive results.