South Africa’s MTN to raise $1 billion from asset sales, FY profit surges

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks past an outlet of South Africa’s MTN Group in Johannesburg, South Africa, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko//File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – MTN Group plans to raise more than 15 billion rand ($1.05 billion) in asset sales over the next three years, Africa’s biggest telecoms group said on Thursday after reporting a massive jump in 2018 profit.

MTN is in the middle of reviewing its presence in some markets alongside investments in e-commerce platforms as part of a plan to streamline the company into a focused operator in high-growth markets in the Middle East and Africa.

As part of the review, the company has agreed to sell its minority stake in Botswana’s Mascom for $300 million. It sold it sole European unit in Cyprus last year.

MTN also said its investments in tower companies and e-commerce platforms such as African online retailer Jumia were valued at 40 billion rand, and would be sold over time as they were not long-term strategic assets.

“The group has committed to the portfolio review realizing more than 15 billion rand over the next three years excluding any proceeds from its 23 billion rand position in IHS,” the company said. IHS is a builder of cell phone towers.

Headline EPS, the primary measure of profit that strips out certain one-off items, surged 85 percent to 337 cents in the year ended December.

The bottom line is still not even half what MTN reported in 2015, a year before it agreed to pay a $1.7 billion fine in Nigeria for missing a deadline to cut off unregistered SIM card users.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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