MTN on Thursday reduced its capital expenditure guidance for 2020 to between R2 billion and R22 billion, revised from R28.3 billion guided at the 2019 full-year results.
“The current environment is marked by significant uncertainties. It is still too early to assess the economic impact of the pandemic on our customers and reliably quantify the direct or indirect financial effects on our business,” the company informed investors on Thursday.
“The remainder of the year will be shaped by the ramifications of the pandemic, and we will continue to update all stakeholders as the effects become clearer.”
The company said its capex focus will be on ensuring the resilience and capacity of its networks.
“We anticipate that disruptions in the supply chain and challenges in rolling out coverage under lockdown rules, combined with our emphasis on liquidity, will impact on our capex programme for the year,” the company explained.
“Our updated capex guidance for 2020 is between R21 billion and R22,0 billion, from R28,3 billion guided at the 2019 results.”
MTN Group CFO, Ralph Mupita, said the company was encouraged by the service revenue growth of 11.1% which we achieved on a constant currency basis, translating to 16.5% on a reported basis.
“Good cost control across the group supported the increase in group EBITDA margins, with a particular strong performance from MTN Ghana,” Mupita said.
“Notwithstanding the impacts of COVID-19 in the first quarter, the balance sheet remained resilient and our cash and committed undrawn facilities was approximately R45 billion at the holding company level, providing us with sufficient liquidity during these uncertain and unprecedented times.”
For the first quarter, MTN delivered a solid performance increasing constant currency service revenue by 11,1% and EBITDA by 15,6% with EBITDA margin improving by 2,1pp to 43,2%, in line with medium-term targets.
The group recorded voice, data and fintech revenue growth of 6,3%, 26,4% and 26,0% respectively as we continued to execute on our strategic objectives and progress toward becoming a digital operator. Digital revenue has returned to growth, increasing by 15,6%.
MTN said it continued to build commercial momentum, adding 6,6 million subscribers to reach 257.3 million subscribers at the end of March, with active data users increasing by 2,9 million to 98 million and MoMo subscribers rising by 0,4 million to 35.1 million.
“We continued to scale our Ayoba platform, recording 2,6 million monthly active users. We accelerated our MoMo agency network in Nigeria under our superagent licence, adding 70 000 agents in the first quarter and bringing the total number of registered agents to 178 000.”