Shares in MTN advanced as much as 10% on Thursday, amid hopes that the operator is close to a deal with Nigeria’s communication authorities.
MTN also announced a 5.2% increase in its dividend to R13.10 per share for the year ended December 2015, despite acting executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko saying the company experienced the most difficult year in its history.
The operator reported that headline earnings per share halved to 746 cents for the reported period, from 1,536 cents in 2014.
Additional Group Highlights
- Group subscribers increased 4.1% to 232.5 million
- Revenue increased 0.1% to R146.35 billion
- Data revenue increased 30.2% to R33.87 billion
- EBITDA decreased 8.6% to R59.918 billion
- Final dividend of 830 cents per share, with total dividend of R13.10 per share
- Capex increased 15.7% to R29.199 billion
Reuters reported that MTN’s share price was up 10% at R149.40 in morning trade on Thursday, its strongest daily gain since October 2008.
By 16h00, the share price was at R145.62, a gain of 7.27%, giving the company a market cap of R270 billion.
Nhleko said the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria continues to receive extensive attention by the group.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) fined MTN ₦1.04-trillion (around R71-billion at the time) in October 2015 for not disconnecting unregistered SIMs on its network.
After negotiations with Nigerian authorities, the fine was reduced by 25% to ₦780-billion.
MTN subsequently challenged the fine in a Lagos court. However, that court adjourned MTN’s legal challenge to March 18 to give the parties a chance to settle the matter.
Africa’s largest operator said last week, that it had withdrawn a lawsuit over the fine, adding that it had paid $250 million (R3.8 billion) to Nigeria’s federal government
“In an effort to achieve an amicable settlement, MTN has agreed to withdraw the matter from the Federal High Court in Lagos,” said the company.
MTN told analysts on Thursday that it may float its Nigerian unit on the Lagos stock market once it had settled the dispute.