MTNGroup announced on Wednesday that it has attracted 29 million new subscribers in 2020 and grew adjusted headline earnings per share (HEPS) by 52%. HEPS is South Africa’s main profit gauge.

The company also recorded a four-percentage point increase in return on equity to 17% and a more than doubling in operating cashflow to R28,3 billion.

MTN Group now has more than 280 million customers as of December 2020 in 21 markets.

As well as managing the risks of COVID-19, MTN Group remains alive to the opportunities presented by the pandemic, particularly the accelerated need for digitalisation evidenced in the greater adoption and usage of MTN services. The group also added 19 million active data users and 11,7 million MoMo (mobile money) users to reach 114,3 million and 46,4 million respectively.

However,  MTN suspended its full-year dividend due to its “near-term focus on faster deleveraging of its holding company as well as three conditions which negatively impacted this objective”.

“We continued to perform favourably against our medium-term targets,”  Ralph Mupita, MTN CEO, said in a statement.

“In constant currency terms, service revenue grew 11,9% to R170 billion and EBITDA increased by 13,4%, maintaining our strong operating leverage. The Group’s EBITDA margin improved by 0,9pp to 42,7%, benefiting from the execution of our expense efficiency programme.”

The solid results were supported by pleasing growth in MTN’s larger operations as well as a broad-based improvement across all regions.

MTN South Africa (MTN SA) sustained the turnaround in its core business units while MTN Nigeria and MTN Ghana continued to deliver solid overall performances with double-digit service revenue growth in both markets.

MTN Nigeria delivered considerable growth in its base, connecting 12,2 million new
subscribers to its network, which helped to grow its service revenue by 14,6%.

Data revenue rose by 51,7%* for the year, maintaining the positive momentum from the
effects of COVID-19 lockdowns. The performance in data was enabled by a combination of
increased subscribers, usage and ultimately traffic, which was in turn supported by increased network capacity and 4G penetration.

MTN Irancell delivered a strong set of results amid ongoing challenges including US sanctions and re-entering classification as a hyperinflationary economy, the depreciation of the currency and the high rate of inflation. Service revenue grew by 36,4%, with voice revenue up by 14,3% and data revenue up by 56,9%.

MTN South Africa delivered solid overall performance underpinned by strong commercial and operational execution as well as an acceleration in digital adoption arising from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1,6% growth in service revenue was supported by the prepaid (up 2,9%) and total postpaid (up 8,6%) businesses, which recovered well from the impact of regulation changes in 2019.

The Group’s networks remained well-invested, with Capex of R28,6 billion in 2020 and headroom to accommodate the growth of more than 110% in data traffic in the year.

In the near-term, MTN is focused on de-leveraging the holding company and it reduced net debt by R12 billion, to R43 billion.

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