MTN Sees Double-Digit Sales Growth as Nigeria Customers Rise

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless operator, posted double-digit revenue growth in the first four months of this year as the number of subscribers in its biggest market of Nigeria climbed.

The company added 1.1 million users in Africa’s most populous nation during April, following the removal of a ban on SIM-card sales imposed in March, Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa said at the company’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg today. That contributed to a 2 percent rise in total customers over the four-month period.

In South Africa, sales growth slowed as mobile operators cut prices to add customers in a saturated market, while the amount MTN is allowed to charge smaller companies for use of its network was reduced by the communications regulator.

“This trend is expected to continue for at least the next two quarters reflecting the adjustments made to retail tariffs,” Dabengwa said. “Growing data services and mobile money are key areas of focus for the group as traditional voice revenue remains under pressure.”

Data revenue increased 43 percent compared with a year earlier and now contributes 17 percent to total sales, compared with 14 percent a year earlier, he said. Iran, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Syria and Sudan all posted “healthy revenue growth.”

MTN shares fell 0.3 percent to 223.50 rand by the market close in Johannesburg. They have gained 3 percent this year, compared with a 3.7 percent decline at biggest South African competitor Vodacom Group Ltd.

(Updates with closing share price in final paragraph.)
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