Johannesburg - MTN Group [JSE:MTN]
, Africa's biggest mobile operator, increased its subscribers by 4% in the July-September third quarter, overcoming intense competition and price cuts from rivals.
The company also lifted its forecast for new users this year to 22.9 million, from 21.1 million.
MTN, which operates mobile phone networks across Africa and the Middle East, said it had 134.4 million users at the end of September, compared with 129.2 million at the end of June.
Shares in MTN were 0.12% lower at R123.70, lagging behind Johannesburg's Top-40 index of blue chips, which was 0.68% firmer.
JSE Top-40 index of blue-chips. The stock has risen about 5% so far this year.
MTN is gearing up for competition from rival Bharti Airtel in Africa, which is waging a price war and plans to spend a total of $1.1bn over the next three years on network upgrades in its sub-Saharan business.
Bharti acquired the African assets of Kuwait's Zain this year.
MTN also faces competition from Vodafone, which has units such as South Africa's Vodacom Group [JSE:VOD]
. In South Africa it also faces new competition from a new entrant 8.ta, the mobile phone unit of Telkom [JSE:TKG]
, which was launched this month.
Competition is also hotting up in MTN's key market of Nigeria, one of the world's fastest growing telecoms markets. Its Nigerian unit recorded a 5.1% rise in new customers to a total of 36.8 million