Netherlands-based mobile group Celtel International has reported a near-50% rise in first half revenues on the back of a boom in subscriber take-up in sub-Saharan Africa. Net profit for the six months to the end of June was USD57 million, including a USD27 million exceptional profit, compared to USD13 million twelve months before. Celtel’s revenues rose by 47% to USD296.5 million, propelled by 63% growth in its customer base. Following the acquisition of Kenyan operator KenCell in May, Celtel now boasts 2.7 million proportional mobile subscribers in 13 African countries. Penetration in sub-Saharan Africa currently averages less than 3% and Celtel CEO Marten Pieters said that the group would be disappointed if the figure does not rise to 10% ‘within a few years’.
Celtel was previously called MSI Cellular Holdings but was rebranded in January 2004 in an attempt to better reflect its businesses. MSI was created in 1998 from the demerged cellular operations of Mobile Systems International, which was subsequently renamed and sold to the British-based equipment vendor Marconi. Celtel is a private company in which the Ibrahim Family and Trusts is the largest shareholder. In 2001 it raised further investments of USD120 million through debt and equity from new investors including Old Mutual Asset Management as well as existing shareholders CDC Capital Partners, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Citigroup and others. Further investment came in January this year when private fund Capital International was the lead investor in a USD62 million equity fund raising programme. Earlier this year Celtel said that there have been discussions about floating the company on the stock market sometime in 2004/05, though it is likely to seek one more acquisition in West Africa before this takes place.