South African-based cellco MTN reported subscriber numbers increased 53% year-on-year to 74.1 million at 30 June 2008. Subscriber numbers in the group’s key market Nigeria increased 12% to 18.6 million, but its market share dropped to 43% from 44% due to competition from the arrival of Kuwait’s Zain Telecom. MTN’s new venture in Iran, Irancell, increased its subscriber base by 93% to 11.6 million.
Group revenue rose 35% to ZAR46.1 billion (USD5.9 billion) in the first half of 2008 compared to twelve months previously. The increase in revenue was mainly driven by Nigeria, which increased revenue by 39% to ZAR13.4 billion, and South Africa, which increased revenue by 18% to ZAR15.4 billion. Syria, Ghana and Iran (MTN’s share of 49% only) generated revenues of ZAR2.9 billion, ZAR2.8 billion and ZAR1.9 billion respectively. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the group was up 29% at ZAR19.6 billion. EBITDA margin fell by 1.8 percentage points to 42.6%. The group depreciation and amortisation charge increased by ZAR1.4 billion to ZAR5.7 billion for the period ended 30 June 2008. ZAR0.5 billion of this amount is attributable to additional capital expenditure for network expansion in Nigeria, while increased investment in South Africa, Iran and Sudan accounted for ZAR0.3 billion of the increase. Group profit after tax increased by 11% to ZAR7 billion compared to ZAR6.3 billion for the six months to 30 June 2007.