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UPDATE 3-African telecoms group MTN says divestment plan on track after first-half sales

Stock MarketsAug 08, 2019 17:03
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© Reuters. UPDATE 3-African telecoms group MTN says divestment plan on track after first-half sales

* Sold loan in ATC Ghana, interest in Amadeus
* Looking to redeem preference shares in Nigeria
* Service revenue up 9.7%
* Shares down 2.1% after hitting year high on Weds

(Adds fintech and instant messaging services)
By Nqobile Dludla
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 8 (Reuters) - MTN Group Ltd MTNJ.J is on
track to meet a divestment target set in March after raising
$140 million from asset sales that will slim down Africa's
largest mobile phone operator and refocus it on high-growth
markets.
MTN is reviewing a raft of investments under a three-year,
15 billion rand ($996 million) divestment plan that includes
shedding loss-making e-commerce assets and exiting countries
where it has no prospect of reaching first or second place by
market share.
In the first half through June it sold its shareholder loan
in ATC Ghana to American Tower Corp for 900 million rand and its
interests in investment fund Amadeus and booking website
Travelstart for 1.2 billion rand.
It has cut its stake in newly-listed Jumia Technologies
JMIA.N to 18.9% from 29.7% after the listing and is in the
process of redeeming MTN Nigeria preference shares for $315
million.
"So we're well on track for our 15 billion rand (target),"
Chief Executive Rob Shuter told reporters on Thursday.
The South African firm's plan to dispose of its minority
stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana for $300 million should be
concluded in the second half.
MTN shares, which rose on Wednesday to their highest in a
year, were down 2.1% by 1331 GMT against a 1% rise in
Johannesburg's Top 40 index .JTOPI .
In the six months through June, group service revenue rose
9.7% to 67.8 billion rand in constant currency terms, led by
voice, data and financial services.
Headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main profit measure
in South Africa, fell to 195 cents from 215 cents a year
earlier, hurt by factors including new accounting standards,
interest on fines and foreign exchange moves.
Using the previous accounting standard, HEPS grew 8.8% to
234 cents, while adjusted HEPS grew 12.1%.
Like peers, MTN has been broadening from a mobile player to
offering digital and financial services in major markets while
still growing its 39.7 billion rand revenue voice business.
Shuter said MTN will launch its music streaming service
MusicTime in Nigeria, one of the biggest markets for music
streaming, in the second half.
It has also launched its messaging app ayoba in three
smaller West African markets and will expand it to other markets
such as Nigeria and Ghana.
"For many years we built a network for voice consumers.
We're (now) repurposing it for mobile internet and we're also
repurposing it to service both enterprise and wholesale
customers," Shuter said.
($1 = 15.0631 rand)

UPDATE 3-African telecoms group MTN says divestment plan on track after first-half sales
 

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