Rob Shuter. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Rob Shuter. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

MTN maintained its final dividend at R4.50, taking its total dividend for 2017 to R7, the same as in 2016.

In 2015, before its Nigerian fine, MTN shareholders received a total dividend of R13.10 per share.

More bad dividend news for shareholders in the mobile network’s results for the year to end-December released on Thursday morning is that its new management intends adopting a "rebased progressive dividend policy" — which translates into cutting its total dividend for 2018 down to R5.

It will then grow from R5 by 10%-20% a year "over the medium term", the results statement said.

MTN reduced its debt to R79.7bn from R87bn, and said it needed to cut future dividends to reduce it further.

"Going forward, we will manage our holding company gearing at levels that are appropriate for a business with our corporate structure and risk profile," the company said in its results statement.

The group’s overall revenue for 2016 declined by 10% to R133bn.

SA overtook Nigeria as MTN’s largest revenue generator, with revenue from its home market growing 3% to R42.5bn while Nigerian revenue plunged 24% to R36bn.

Measured in naira, MTN’s Nigerian revenue grew by 11.4%, the company said.

MTN’s joint venture in Iran could have added R16.5bn to its revenue, if it could repatriate the money.

The group reported a swing into a net profit of R4.5bn from the previous year’s R3.1bn loss.

"MTN Nigeria showed strong constant currency revenue growth and MTN SA’s postpaid business displayed encouraging improvements," CEO Rob Shuter said in the results statement.

"The group’s top-line growth was driven by robust growth in data revenue — on a constant currency basis — supported by the combination of improving customer service and more stable and competitive networks."