MTN called off its proposed sale of a 53 per cent stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana, a deal worth $300 million, as the company highlighted subscriber growth and service revenue increases in a trading update.
In a statement, MTN said it had decided to abandon a deal with joint venture partner Econet Wireless to sell its stake in the Botswana unit, “as certain conditions to the transaction were not met”.
MTN added the stake was no longer being held for sale, although it could be tempted by a deal in the future if an offer came in.
The proposed sale was part of a three-year divestment plan, announced in March 2019, which looks to raise at least ZAR15 billion ($1 billion) through exiting countries where MTN cannot achieve a top two position, as well as selling loss making assets.
Despite the Botswana setback, the company said it continued to make progress on the plan. It added that it was in advanced talks to sell tower assets in both Ghana and Uganda, which could generate as much as ZAR8 billion.
Group service revenue increased 9.6 per cent on a constant currency basis in the nine months to 30 September, to reach ZAR102.8 billion, driven by a strong performance in Nigeria and Ghana.
CEO Rob Shuter however bemoaned home market South Africa, where service revenue only increased by 0.4 per cent.
Indeed, the figure might have been higher, but the company left as much as ZAR817 million in roaming payments from embattled operator Cell C off its book, because of its liquidity problems.
Shuter added South Africa continued to be impacted by a “weak economy, the implementation of lower out of bundle data prices and new data usage rules”.
Subscribers at group level grew quarter on quarter by 3.5 million, giving the company 243.7 million in total, while MTN mobile money customers also increased during the same period by 2.2 million, to 31.7 million.
As the numbers issued were in a trading update, profit and loss figures were not supplied.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back