MTN’s beleaguered shareholders, who have been hit by crises ranging from allegations of corruption in Iran to the head of their Ugandan business being deported, were granted a reprieve on Thursday. The mobile operator’s shares jumped the most since 2000 after it announced asset sales of at least R15bn over the next three years and said its performance would improve. The stock, which had slumped in prior trading days partly on concerns that earnings were not recovering fast enough, more than made up for those losses as it jumped 18.1% to R89.80 on Thursday, the best close since November. The stock is still down by a third compared to its price of R135 a year ago.

The first of the planned sales, in line with CEO Rob Shuter's plan to simplify the business and concentrate in areas where it had the best potential would involve the sale of its 53% stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana to Econet for $300m (R4.3bn). Finance chief Ralph Mupita said the “asset realisation” programme would p...

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