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MTN Raises Full-Year Forecast on African Customer Additions

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, raised its forecast for subscriber growth this year as it added customers in South Africa and Nigeria, two of its biggest markets.

The company increased subscriber numbers 3.8 percent to 182.7 million in the three months through September and expects to add 23.7 million this year, compared with a forecast of 21.3 million previously, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today.

MTN, which operates in 22 African and Middle Eastern markets, said South African growth of 4.1 percent was boosted by the addition of pre-paid customers. Nigerian customers increased 5.7 percent, although growth in data customers was affected by network congestion, it said. The company is upgrading networks to handle more data traffic as consumers seek Internet connections on their mobile devices.

“It seems like they maintained or slightly increased market share in their major markets,” Mia Kruger, a Johannesburg-based portfolio manager at Kruger International, said by phone. “Generally, the third quarter isn’t their best quarter so I think it’s satisfactory, given what they have been facing.”

MTN shares declined 0.2 percent to 150.80 rand at the close of trading in Johannesburg.

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