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MTN Gains as Nears Annual Subscriber Target: Johannesburg Mover

MTN Group Ltd. (MTN), Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, had the biggest three-day gain in almost 18 months as the company said it will probably reach its target of 21 million new subscribers this year.

The shares rose as much as 6.5 percent on a three-day basis, the most since the similar period ending Nov. 30, 2011, and were 1.1 percent higher at 166.80 rand by 11:41 a.m. in Johannesburg. The company is on track to add 21 million more customers this year helped by growth in countries from Nigeria and Iran to Afghanistan, it said in a statement today.

“MTN is loved by the market and most of the traders and investors like MTN compared to Vodacom,” Sibonginkosi Nyanga, an analyst at Imara SP Reid (Pty) Ltd., said by phone from Johannesburg today. “MTN operates in a number of geographies which means if competition heats up in South Africa, it probably might be making money in Iran or somewhere else.”

MTN, based in Johannesburg, is seeking acquisition targets in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and may spend as much as $8 billion on deals, building on an increase in spending on networks last year that held back earnings, the company said on April 11.

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), the world’s second-largest mobile service provider that owns a 65 percent-stake in South African- based Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD), said yesterday it plans to invest more in its African businesses to offset stagnant earnings in Europe.

MTN added 3.5 million new customers in Nigeria during the first quarter while its full-year target is for 7 million, Nyanga said. The company currently has 195.4 million subscribers, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaco Visser in Johannesburg at avisser3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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