South African Telecoms Giant MTN To Pull Out Of Mideast

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Africa’s largest mobile operator, South African telecoms giant MTN, announced Thursday it would pull out of the Middle East to concentrate on Africa and scrap its interim dividend under a blueprint to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will, therefore, be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium-term,” the group’s president and CEO, Rob Shuter, said in a first-half results statement

“As a first step, we are in advanced discussions to sell our 75% stake in MTN Syria.”

The company which was founded in 1994, lists operations in Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Iran in its Middle East file, which also includes Afghanistan.

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The statement said that in the January to June period, MTN’s subscriber base rose by 10.6 million to 251.5 million compared to end-2019.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) rose 10.9 percent to 41.8 billion rand ($2.38 billion, 2.01 billion euros).

“MTN delivered strong results for the period against the backdrop of difficult trading conditions, exacerbated by the unprecedented socio and macroeconomic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shuter said.

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He singled out strong performances in Ghana and Nigeria as well as a “pleasing turnaround” in South Africa.

However, “no interim dividend (was) declared due to uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 impacts,” it said.

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