Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

MTN’s share price has fully recovered from the steep losses incurred in the second half of 2018, when Nigerian authorities shocked the mobile operator with hefty demands.

Shares in the group rose to a high of R107.70 on Thursday, compared to a close of R107.34 on August 29 2018, the day before they crashed on news that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) wanted MTN to return $8.1bn (R120bn) in dividends.

That announcement, and a separate $2bn demand for back-taxes from Nigeria’s attorney-general, sent MTN’s shares below R70 by mid-September 2018.

While the company reached a settlement with Nigeria’s central bank in late December — the $8.1bn claim was reduced to $53m — the tax case is yet to be resolved, though MTN says its tax affairs are in order.

Sentiment towards the stock has improved since MTN published its results in March and eased investor concerns with a set of bullish targets and numbers that showed debt was under control.

MTN has announced plans to sell R15bn in assets over the next three years.

It also raised its medium-term target for service revenue growth to “double digits”, and said adjusted return on equity should improve from 11.5% in 2018 to above 20% over time.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za