South Africa-based regional mobile operator MTN Group said that net profit rose 1.2% in the first six months of this year to ZAR4.43 billion (USD297.5 million) from ZAR4.38 billion, but warned that lower wholesale revenue in its home market could ‘be a drag’ for the remainder of the year. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rose 10% year-on-year, the company said, as first-half revenue increased to ZAR72.51 billion from ZAR62.78 billion in 1H18. The company noted that it has added a net 7.7 million subscribers since the start of the year, taking its group total to over 240 million. MTN Group’s share price has also recovered after being affected by demands from regulators in Nigeria. The operator has resolved a dispute with the country’s central bank, but is reportedly ‘yet to settle a disagreement over allegedly unpaid taxes with the auditor-general’.
MTN Group’s South Africa business reported lower margins in the six months under review after being forced to write off as much as ZAR393 million owed by struggling rival Cell C for network roaming services. MTN said service revenue in South Africa increased by 3.3% y-o-y, but EBITDA grew by just 0.2% to ZAR7.5 billion as margins fell. The South African unit’s half-year performance was also adversely impacted by new regulations aimed at curbing out-of-bundle tariffs and ‘adjustments required due to delayed payments under the network roaming agreement with Cell C,’ MTN said.