Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) reported an 8.4% rise in annual revenue to RUB480.3 billion (USD7.5 billion) in 2018, of which the domestic fixed and mobile operating division earned RUB448.1 billion (representing 93.3% of total sales), up 8.7%. Group operating profit (EBIT) climbed 20.9% to RUB116.2 billion in FY18 and operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) jumped 22.9% to RUB220.9 billion (of which Russia accounted for RUB209.2 billion, up 21.8%). Annual net profit shrank to RUB6.8 billion in FY18, compared to RUB56.0 in 2017, hit by a recent settlement with US authorities to conclude investigations into former Uzbekistan operations. Twelve-month CAPEX spending was boosted by 13.2% to RUB86.5 billion as MTS deployed 21,500 base stations (including 13,400 4G LTE) in Russia to reach LTE network coverage of 68% of the Russian population by end-December 2018 whilst also launching an NB-IoT network across 49 Russian regions. The group added that it will raise CAPEX further to RUB90 billion in 2019 as it begins 5G infrastructure rollouts.
MTS’ mobile customers (including M2M/IoT connections) in Russia stood at 78.0 million at 31 December 2018, compared to 78.3 million a year earlier, while MTS’ Vodafone-branded Ukraine division reported a 5.5% year-on-year drop in its mobile subscriber total to 19.7 million. In Armenia MTS reported a 0.4% y-o-y rise in mobile subscribers, standing at around 2.1 million at end-2018, and in Belarus the group saw a 4.5% y-o-y increase in the user base to around 5.5 million.