MTN commits R17bn in capex

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Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, expects to have committed 70% of its full-year capital investment of R24.4 billion by the end of next month.

Group president and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, speaking at the company's annual general meeting yesterday, said MTN's full-year capital spending would be close to the indicated R24.4 billion. He said 70%, or about R17.08 billion, would have been committed by the end of June.

In March, the group said it would invest R24.4 billion in its network this year, the biggest chunk of which, R10.5 billion, would go towards improving its Nigerian network, which had experienced issues with capacity after MTN cut prices to respond to the competitive market.

MTN also planned to spend R4.6 billion in SA, and another R1.1 billion in Ghana. An additional R869 million would be spent in Syria, while remaining operations would benefit from a R6 billion investment injection.

During 2011, MTN had expected to invest a total of R22 billion, but only spent R17.7 billion. Dabengwa said in March that 95% of the authorised amount had been committed and the balance would flow through in the first half of this year, which ends next month.

Gaining users

Dabengwa said yesterday that MTN grew its subscriber base 5.2% in the four months to April and has 173.1 million mobile subscribers across its operations. The operator has a presence in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

MTN says its revenue grew by double digits in the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2011. It did not provide figures, but noted that it gained mostly because of the weaker rand and strong growth in SA, Iran and Ghana.

Its growth rate in Nigeria was dampened by ongoing price competition, while Syria's revenue dropped due to continued unrest in the country. Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda also grew their top line.

In the year to December, MTN reported revenue in constant currency of R121.9 billion, a 9.7% gain.

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