MTN, Africa and the Middle East biggest mobile phone operator delivered a strong set of results for the year to end-December 2019, as it signs up more data and mobile money service customers plus mobile telephony subscribers.
“We added 18 million customers to reach a total of 251 million and increased our data users by 17 million to 95 million and our fintech customers by 7 million to 35 million,” said Rob Shuter, the CEO of MTN Group.
“This growth is central to our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. We also saw improvements in customer experience, network quality and market share across the group.
“We advanced our work to build a digital operator.”
On the strategic front, MTN launched its instant messaging platform Ayoba, which is now live in 12 markets with two million monthly active users. For more read: MTN’s Ayoba Messaging Platform is Attracting More Users
In the year to end-December 2019, MTN’s headline earnings per share (HEPS) came in at 468 cents per share, up 38,9%. HEPS is South Africa’s main profit gauge.
In constant currency terms, MTN’s group service revenue rose by 9,8% to R141,8 billion and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) expanded by 13,6% to R53,4 billion in the year to end December 2019.
“The group’s results were supported by double-digit growth in service revenue by both MTN Nigeria and MTN Ghana,” said Shuter.
“The performance of MTN South Africa was impacted by economic pressure, new data usage rules and changes in recognition criteria for roaming revenue from Cell C due to delayed payments under the networking roaming agreement.”
MTN is re-focusing its business on building an integrated digital operator and the results are encouraging.
The shift is part of a strategy to focus on the FinTech, digital, enterprise, and wholesale business areas. This is to position Africa’s largest mobile phone operator for the future where voice business will no longer be its bread and butter. For more read: Shuter’s Plan to Turn MTN into a Digital Operator is Slowly Becoming a Reality
In the year to end-December 2019, MTN Group voice revenue grew by 4,2% to R82,1 billion, data expanded by 22,4% to R35,1 billion, FinTech grew by 27,0% to R10,1 billion and digital declined by 39,6% to R2,4 billion. Enterprise and wholesale revenues grew by 8,4% and 63,2% respectively to R13,3 billion and R4,7 billion.
Cash inflows generated from operations increased by 36,8% to R55,2 billion. Key cash outflows included cash capex of R27 billion and dividends paid to equity holders of R9,4 billion. Cash flow was also impacted by the final Nigeria fine payment (R4,4 billion) and the CBN resolution payment (R731 million).
In 2020, MTN said it will continue to invest in its networks to ensure it is ready for the digital revolution and plan to increase capex spend by 13% to R28,5 billion.