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MTN has scaled back it subscriber targets for its new venture in Iran.

The South Africa-based operator had hoped to attract 1.5 million subscribers to its MTN Irancell unit by the end of 2006, but this figure has been pushed back to 1 million.

Speaking earlier in the year, MTN Group CEO Phuthuma Nhleko said he hoped MTN Irancell would become one of the three pillars of growth for the company alongside South Africa and Nigeria.

MTN counted over 10 million subscribers in South Africa at the end of June 2006, and more than 9 million in the burgeoning Nigerian market.

MTN also announced its first half results, reporting an 18% rise in revenues to US$2.8 billion, with its domestic South African operation contributing over half of the total and Nigeria over a quarter.

Group subscriber numbers rose 9.4% to 25.4 million.

In May 2006, MTN announced the purchase of pan-Africa and Middle East operator Investcom for US$5.5 billion.

Investcom, which has been consolidated in MTN results since July, increased its customer base by 26% in the first half of the year to 6.14 million and boosted its core earning by 36% to US$255 million.

Investcom will remain a separate entity to MTN.

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