by Staff Writer

MTN has described its performance in 2016 as reflecting “the most challenging year in the company’s 22-year history”, which was a result of the big Nigerian fine and other political challenges.

This resulted in Africa and the Middle East biggest mobile phone operator to post a Headline loss per share of 77 cents in the year to end-December 2016. Headline earnings per share is the main profit gauge in South Africa.

The perfect storm that has engulfed MTN has resulted in the resignation of its CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, which led to a process to refresh the entire MTN’s executive team with new blood.

The company will be this month be getting a new CEO, Rob Shutter and other new executives have started their duties such as Godfrey Motsa, Karl Toriola, Stephen van Coller, Oliver Fortuin, Jens Schulte-Bockum, Gunter Engling, Felleng Sekha, etc. While Ralph Mupita, who will commence duty on 3 April 2017 as group chief financial officer and executive director of the group board.

Despite all of these, MTN decided to reward its shareholders with a dividend.

MTN has declared a second half dividend of 450 cents per share, which will bring the total dividend for 2016 to 700 cents per share.

The company also repatriated R6.3 billion from MTN Irancell up to 31 December 2016, being the entire amount due under the loan advanced for the licence fee in 2005.

The company added that after the year end, the operational dividends of the last five years presently due to it were paid by MTN Irancell totalling €468 million. This brings the total repatriation to €893 million.

The group, which operates in 22 countries, reported a 0,4% increase in revenue to R147 billion, which was impacted by the depreciation of the South Africa rand and Nigerian naira against the US dollar, particularly in the second half of 2016.

While, EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) dropped by 13,2% to R52 billion.

Despite this, there were bright spots in the MTN’s results. In the period under review, data revenue increased by 19,7% to contribute 27% to total group revenue. Data revenue growth was supported by strong growth in most markets benefiting from significantly improved 3G and LTE network quality.

The group subscribers increased by 3,3% to 240,4 million.

MTN Nigeria increased its subscriber by 1,2% to 62 million, and the company increase its market share to 48% from 44,8%. This was mainly due to the reconnection of previously disconnected subscribers as well as the aggressive drive to secure new connections with the MTN StartPack tariff plan.

However, despite these difficulties, MTN said the business began to show encouraging first signs of a turnaround.

“Much of 2016 was consumed with putting in place corrective measures to ensure the delivery of the company strategy. Towards the end of 2016, our two largest operations and some of the tier two operations began to show signs of a turnaround following an extended period of underperformance,” the company said.

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