MTN has acquired nearly R1,4bn in its own shares in the past three months in a move it says is meant to improve returns to its shareholders.
Between 8 March and 28 May 2012, the telecommunications group says it has bought back shares to the value of R1,36bn. The total value of shares bought back, including repurchases during the 2011 financial year, now totalled almost R2,3bn, it said.
“The total number of shares repurchased equates to 0,9% of MTN Group’s issued share capital,” MTN president and CEO Sifiso Dabengwa will tell the group’s annual general meeting of shareholders on Tuesday.
“This distribution to shareholders is in addition to the 70% dividend pay-out ratio announced previously,” Dabengwa will say. “The MTN board will continue to implement share buybacks on an opportunistic basis.”
Faced with a potentially damaging lawsuit from rival Turkcell over the way its Iranian affiliate, MTN Irancell, was awarded an operating licence, MTN’s share price has been treading water in recent months. In the past year, the share price has declined by 7% compared to a 22,4% gain by rival Vodacom.
Turning to the legal dispute with Turkcell, which is seeking US$4,2bn in damages, MTN tells shareholders that it continues to believe that there is “no legal merit” to Turkcell’s claims and no basis for the company’s claims to be brought before a US court. Lord Leonard Hoffman’s investigation into Turkcell’s allegations, which was created on instruction of MTN’s board, is “well underway” and the group says expects to receive recommendations later this year.
Turning to US sanctions on Iran, MTN says it is “working with the US authorities to manage its compliance”.
“MTN also continues to retain international legal advisors to assist the group in remaining compliant with applicable European Union, US and United Nations sanctions.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media