Africa’s wireless behemoth MTN reports first losses – the first in 2 decades

PHOTO/ Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Losses attributed to forex rates and fine imposed by Nigerian regulator

Africa’s giant telecommunications group MTN is announcing full-year losses for 2016 driven by a US$1.1 billion Nigerian fine and damaging foreign exchange rates. The losses are the company’s first in 2 decades.

But the group still will pay dividends of 700 South African cents (US$0.53) a share – a move that saw its share price rise nearly 10 percent Thursday on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. That compares to dividends of 1,109 cents (US$0.85) a share on 2015 profits.

A statement to shareholders Thursday put MTN’s losses at 147 billion rand (US$11.2 billion), though subscribers increased by 7.7 million to 240 million.

MTN called 2016 the most challenging in its 22-year history.

It blamed last year’s losses on a US$1.1 billion fine in Nigeria for having 5.2 million active but unregistered SIM cards.

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