Rob Shuter (centre). Picture: THE TIMES
Rob Shuter (centre). Picture: THE TIMES

MTN suffered a 19% plunge in interim revenue to R64bn for the six months to end-June from R79bn, its interim results released on Thursday morning showed.

MTN appears to have tried to gloss over this, saying that "group revenue in constant currency grew by 6.7%* to R64bn, underpinned by 10.8%* growth in revenue in Nigeria and a 5.2% (on an organic basis) improvement in service revenue growth in SA".

The asterisks appear to flag that revenue comparisons have not been done in rand, but naira and other African currencies, which provides a more flattering picture.

The company’s biggest region, West and Central Africa (WECA), which includes its largest market Nigeria, suffered a 28% drop in revenue to R33.3bn when measured in rand.

"Macroeconomic conditions remain challenging across a number of our markets, with Nigeria continuing to experience a weaker naira as well as hard currency liquidity challenges," CEO Rob Shuter said in the results statement.

"Although SA entered a technical recession in the first quarter, the rand strengthened considerably against the US dollar during the period, while many of the currencies in our other markets weakened."

MTN maintained its interim dividend at R2.50, the same as in 2016’s interim period when it reported a R6.3bn loss after booking several write-downs including its entire Nigerian fine, which is to be paid over three years.

Overall subscriber numbers in the period decreased by 3.6% to 231.8-million, mainly due to drops in Nigeria and Ghana.

MTN said it grew its subscriber base in SA by 1.5% to 31.2-million and its revenue 1.6% to R20bn.

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