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Growth in Iran, Ghana boosts MTN

Aug 08 2012 08:50 Reuters

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Johannesburg - MTN Group [JSE:MTN], Africa’s largest mobile operator, reported a 14% increase in first-half profit on Wednesday, as solid growth in South Africa, Iran and Ghana helped it overcome tougher competition its key Nigerian market.

Johannesburg-based MTN said adjusted headline earnings per share totalled 537.4 cents for the six months to end-June, compared with 470.1 cents last year.

MTN, which does business across Africa and in parts of the Middle East, said revenue in the six months to end-June totalled R66.43bn, compared with R56.5bn in the same period last year.    

Group subscribers increased by 7% to 176 million. 

The company is embroiled in a scandal over alleged corrupt practices in its bid to win a licence in Iran in 2005. Turkish rival Turkcell, which lost out on the lucrative licence, has sued MTN for $4.2bn the United States.

MTN, which has said the case lacks any legal merit, has filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

It said on Wednesday it plans to file its next brief related to the case on August 15, with a decision on the motion to dismiss expected in late 2012 or early 2013.  

MTN has said earlier this year that it had struggled to repatriate profits from its lucrative Iranian business because of Western sanctions.    

The telecoms regulator in Nigeria, its biggest market, fined MTN 360 million naira ($2.23m) along with three other rivals in May for poor quality service.

MTN shares are up 7% this year, underperforming a 10% rise in Johannesburg’s Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index.


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