MTN Group reported strong financial, operational and sustainability results in 2021 in a tough macro environment. These were delivered through strong strategic execution and sustained commercial momentum across 19 markets, in the year in which Africa’s leading mobile operator started implementing its refreshed Ambition 2025 strategy.
“We adapted to the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and started shaping the MTN of the future through the execution of Ambition 2025,” said MTN Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita.
In constant-currency terms, service revenue grew by 18.3% to R171.8 billion; earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 23.7% to R80.8 billion; and the EBITDA margin expanded by 2.2 percentage points to 44.5%. The Board declared a final dividend of 300 cents per share.
“The performance was underpinned by pleasing growth in our larger operating companies, operating leverage and the benefits of our expense efficiency programme,” said Mupita, adding that headline earnings per share adjusted for non-operational items increased by 26.6%; return on equity expanded by 2.6 percentage points to 19.6%; and organic operating cashflow accelerated by 35.2% to R38.3 billion.
The results were delivered despite a slowdown in subscriber additions related to industry-wide regulations in Nigeria. At year-end, MTN Group had a total of 272.4 million subscribers, up 2.9 million from end-2020. Greater adoption of data and fintech services resulted in the addition of 11.1 million new data users and 10.4 million new mobile money users to reach totals of 122.0 million and 56.8 million respectively. To cater for the 53.3% expansion in data traffic and 41.1% increase in fintech volumes, we continued to invest in the capacity and resilience of our networks and platforms, deploying total capex of R32.7 billion in the year.
MTN Group increased their financial flexibility to capture the opportunities identified by Ambition 2025. The company deleveraged the balance sheet, paying US$1.4 billion in dollar debt and improving the holding company leverage to 1.0x from 2.2x. This was boosted by cash of R18.4 billion repatriated from their operating companies and R4.1 billion in proceeds from the asset realization programme (ARP) during the 2021 financial year. The Group anticipates further net proceeds of R8.8 billion from the public offer of MTN Nigeria shares and the sale of passive tower infrastructure, once completed.