MTN Group is set to complete the sale and leaseback of South African towers by the end of next month, while a separation of both the fintech and fibre units is also under way as the wireless carrier strives to pay down debt.
The tower deal could generate as much as R11-billion, according to analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence. The fintech move is due to be finalised by March and fibre over the next two years, the firm said in a statement on Thursday.
Africa’s biggest mobile phone company is more than two years into a transformational breakup project, shedding assets and exiting markets to focus on core businesses around the continent. A key aspect is to cease operations in the Middle East, and MTN has abandoned its Syria operation as regulatory demands prevented a more orthodox exit, the group said.
The shares rose more than 5% in Johannesburg in morning trading. The stock has gained almost 96% this year, the best performer on the FTSE/JSE Africa Top40 Index.
MTN confirmed it is not going to resubmit a bid for a new licence in Ethiopia, which is opening up the market to international operators for the first time. A previous offer by the carrier and various partners was rejected by the Ethiopian government.
Sales grew by 2.1% in the six months to June, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose by 6.6%. The group outperformed in its home market of South Africa, where revenue gained 12%.
The carrier cut debt to R36.7-billion from about R43.3-billion. MTN has repatriated R7-billion this year from Nigeria, where it has historically been hard to extract cash due to a lack of foreign exchange. — (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP