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MTN subscriber growth buoys revenues

South African operator posts strong results for full year 2008

South African operator MTN Group increased its revenues by 40% to ZAR102.5 billion ($10.2 billion) in 2008, after increasing its subscriber base by 48% to 90.7 million users, the company reported in its full year results for 2008.

Net profit for the group, which operates in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, rose 43.8% to ZAR17.1 billion ($1.7 billion), while EBITDA increased by 36% to reach ZAR43.2 billion (4.31 billion). MTN’s results were also strengthened by the relative appreciation of operating currencies to the Rand, the company said in a statement.

MTN’s Iranian operation, MTN Irancell, contributed most to the group’s subscriber base. The operation gained 10 million subscribers last year, giving it a total of 16 million subscribers by the end of 2008. It also increased its market share to 37% in 2008, from 23% in 2007. MTN cited “attractive tariff plans” and a strong brand image as being among the main drivers of growth in Iran.

MTN Nigeria also performed strongly in 2008, gaining 6.6 million customers to give a total of 23.1 million subscribers.

In its home market of South Africa, MTN increased its subscriber base by 16% to 17.2 million users in 2008. The company achieved growth of 17% in the pre-paid sector, gaining 14.4 million subscribers. This growth came mainly through MTN Zone, a pre-paid package that was launched in February 2008, which gained 6.6 million subscribers by the end of the year.

MTN increased its post-paid subscribers in South Africa by 10% to reach 2.8 million users, mainly driven by the launch of the MTN Anytime package in September 2008, which attracted 259,000 subscribers.