MTN cuts its fore­cast for Nige­rian sub­scriber growth

CityPress - - Business -

MTN Group slashed its full-year fore­cast for Nige­rian sub­scriber growth by nearly a third on Thurs­day, rais­ing con­cern about its abil­ity to fight off com­pe­ti­tion in its top mar­ket and send­ing its shares slid­ing.

The company has been fight­ing to stay in the lead in Nige­ria, ahead of com­peti­tors such as the United Arab Emi­rates’ Eti­salat, In­dia’s Bharti Air­tel and pri­vately owned Nige­rian firm Globa­com.

It now ex­pects to add 3.5 mil­lion users in Nige­ria this year from its pre­vi­ous fore­cast of 5 mil­lion.

In to­tal, it has 58.4 mil­lion cus­tomers in Nige­ria, a slight de­crease from three months ago.

“That comes as a bit of a sur­prise. Many par­tic­i­pants in the mar­ket were look­ing for a cor­rec­tion in Nige­ria,” said Nadim Mo­hammed, a tele­coms in­dus­try an­a­lyst at First Av­enue In­vest­ment Man­age­ment, re­fer­ring to MTN’s re­vi­sion to its sub­scribers fore­cast.

“You’ve got a very ca­pa­ble reg­u­la­tor in the coun­try now and they are do­ing the right things to pro­mote com­pe­ti­tion, bet­ter costs to com­mu­ni­cate and a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for the con­sumer. I am ac­tu­ally wor­ried,” he added.

Nige­rian au­thor­i­ties this year fined MTN and two other op­er­a­tors a com­bined $4 mil­lion (R43.8 mil­lion) for poor ser­vice and banned them from sell­ing SIM cards.

Its Nige­rian user base was also hit after mil­i­tant Is­lamist group Boko Haram burnt down ra­dio masts.

MTN’s shares were down 4.6% after it pub­lished its trad­ing up­date. The company re­ported 2% growth in to­tal users in the three months to end-Septem­ber, bring­ing its cus­tomer base to 219 mil­lion users across its 22 mar­kets in Africa and the Mid­dle East.

– Reuters

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