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MTN posted strong operating performance outlook in 2023

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Mtn
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MTN Group reported a resilient underlying operating performance for 2023 in the face of tough macro headwinds, declaring a total dividend of 330 cents per share. Inflation remained elevated in several key markets and the sharp devaluation of the Nigerian naira impacted reported results for both MTN Nigeria and MTN Group.

Amid sustained high demand for data and fintech services, MTN Group increased the number of active data subscribers by more than 9% to 150 million – half the total subscriber base – and active Mobile Money (MoMo) users by 5% to 72.5 million. Total subscribers increased to 295 million across the Group’s markets.

In the year to end-December 2023, data traffic on MTN’s networks (excluding joint ventures) grew by more than a third, with usage up to an average of more than 6GB per user per month. To sustain this growth, as well as network coverage and quality, MTN deployed capital expenditure (excluding leases) of $2.164 millions in the year.

The volume of fintech transactions also increased by around a third to 17.6 billion, with the value of transactions across the fintech platform up at US$272 billion, driven by growth of advanced services in payments, banktech and remittance solutions.

In South Africa, where the business faced loadshedding challenges, subsidiary MTN South Africa deployed $527.860 millions of capex to drive network capacity expansion and power resilience. More than $137.233 millions of this was investment in power and security resilience. By the end of the year, network availability across the entire network reached around 95%. For the sites where we had completed our resilience investment, we recorded network availability of more than 98%.

MTN South Africa reported solid growth in the consumer postpaid, enterprise and wholesale businesses. In the second half of the year there were also sequential improvements in the consumer prepaid business.

In the year, MTN Group made good strategic progress in the development of our fintech and fibre businesses. A key highlight was concluding an agreement for payment network processor Mastercard to invest up to US$200 million for a minority stake in MTN Group Fintech at a valuation of US$5.2 billion.

We are excited about this partnership, particularly the commercial agreements, which we expect to support the accelerated growth of our fintech business,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita. “In 2023, we also advanced our work to structurally separate the fibre business, Bayobab, with engagements to secure regulatory clearances in key markets being the main priority.”

In the year, Bayobab and Africa50 partnered to develop Project East2West, a terrestrial fibre optic cable network to help bridge Africa’s connectivity gap by improving broadband access for the continent’s landlocked countries in particular.

Among the Group’s other strategic progress highlights were the 13.1% absolute reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This is part of our environmental commitment to reach Net Zero emissions by 2040. We also finalised the sale of MTN Afghanistan, which completed the Group’s exit of our consolidated subsidiaries in the Middle East.

In the year, MTN Group’s finances withstood a challenging external environment, marked by elevated inflation (averaging a blended 16.7%), forex volatility and paucity, and ongoing political tensions in some markets, most notably in Sudan.

In constant currency terms, MTN Group service revenue grew 13.5% to $11.084 millions with data revenue making up $4.434 million and voice revenue contributing $4.382 millions . Fintech revenue totalled $1.109 millions.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by almost 10% in constant currency terms to $4.753 millions. The Group delivered expense efficiencies of $137.353 millions and kept key debt ratios within covenant levels.

Outlook and priorities
Looking ahead, Mupita said MTN remained focused on executing on Ambition 2025: sustaining operational momentum, accelerating the platforms strategy, driving expense and capital efficiencies, and continuing to strengthen the balance sheet.

We are anticipating that the macro conditions in our trading environment will persist in 2024, with naira volatility and elevated inflation the key challenges we will need to navigate. MTN plans to invest R35-39 billion in 2024 to position the company to capture the structural demand for data and fintech services across Africa,” he said.

We maintain our overall medium-term guidance framework, however simplifying our objective for fintech,” Mupita said, adding that MTN was encouraged by the outlook for the fintech business, given the solid growth in advanced services. “The partnership with Mastercard positions the business well to scale faster and we are excited about the commercial launches of card issuance, acceptance and remittances across the footprint.

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