Iran General NewsMTN subscribers climb 11% on growth in Iran unit

MTN subscribers climb 11% on growth in Iran unit

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ImageBloomberg: MTN Group Ltd., Africa's largest mobile-phone company, reported an 11 percent increase in subscribers in the first quarter, helped by gains in Iran.

By Ron Derby

ImageApril 23 (Bloomberg) — MTN Group Ltd., Africa's largest mobile-phone company, reported an 11 percent increase in subscribers in the first quarter, helped by gains in Iran.

MTN's customers rose to 68.2 million at the end of March, from 61.4 million at the end of December, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement to the city's stock exchange today. Subscribers in Iran increased 50 percent to 9 million.

MTN has shifted its focus outside South Africa, where larger rival Vodacom Group Ltd. is the market leader, and now operates in 21 countries. MTN's subscribers in South Africa total 15.2 million, while Vodacom has 24.3 million. Smaller rival Cell C Ltd. has 4.8 million.

Subscribers in Nigeria, which has overtaken South Africa as MTN's biggest market, grew 8 percent to 17.8 million.

MTN fell 2.45 rand, or 1.8 percent, to 133.45 rand in Johannesburg trading at 3:42 p.m., giving the company a market value of 248.9 billion rand ($32.6 billion).

"The figures were probably in line with expectations, and didn't surprise the market on the upside," Garth Mackenzie, head of derivatives trading at BoE Stockbrokers, said by phone from Johannesburg today.

Average revenue per user fell 3 percent in MTN's South African operations, indicating that rising inflation has not meaningfully affected ARPU, the company said. "However this could have an impact in the future."

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