After years of regulatory pain, MTN Nigeria is flying again - TechCentral

After years of regulatory pain, MTN Nigeria is flying again

MTN Nigeria, MTN Group’s largest operating subsidiary, turned in a robust performance in the 2019 financial year, with mobile subscribers rising by 6.1 million to 64.3 million and profit before tax up by 31.1%.

The group said on Monday that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) – a measure of operational profitability – rose by 45.2% in the 12 months to 31 December 2019 to N629.9-billion. Earnings per share were up 38.8% and Ebitda margin rose by 12.1 percentage points to 53.9%.

“Despite a challenging operating environment, we continued to deliver double-digit growth in service revenue in line with our medium-term guidance,” said MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman in a statement.

“Voice revenue growth remained healthy and data revenue continued to accelerate, supporting a 12.6% increase in service revenue with an acceleration in growth to 14% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2019.”

Following the completion of a Sim re-registration exercise in the third quarter, MTN Nigeria recorded 2.7 million net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter. “Although the last quarter is usually seasonally strong, service revenue growth of 14% in the quarter outpaced the seasonal effect,” Moolman said.

The company expanded its 4G/LTE population coverage to 43.8%, giving people in 68 additional cities access to the technology. It plans to invest N600-billion in its network in the next three years to expand coverage.

Regulatory headaches

The board has proposed a final dividend of N4.97 kobo per share. This brings the total dividend for the year to N7.92 kobo per share.

The strong results come as MTN finally seems to be putting years of regulatory headaches that have impeded its progress in the country behind it. Analysts have suggested the group’s decision to list the Nigerian business in Lagos has helped temper regulatory impulses given that local shareholders are now invested in the business and its success.

“We are delighted with the progress made in resolving our dispute with the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) on the adequacy of taxes and duties paid. We have discontinued the legal action against the AGF following the transfer of the matter to the relevant authorities and look forward to a final resolution. We have always fulfilled our tax obligations and remain committed to maintaining good relationships with all regulatory authorities,” it said.  – © 2020 NewsCentral Media

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