JOHANNESBURG - Africa's largest mobile operator, South African telecoms giant MTN, announced it would pull out of the Middle East to concentrate on Africa, and scrap its interim dividend under a blueprint to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
"MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will therefore be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium-term," the group's president and CEO, Rob Shuter, said in a first-half results statement
"As a first step we are in advanced discussions to sell our 75 percent stake in MTN Syria."
The company which was founded in 1994, lists operations in Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Iran in its Middle East file, which also includes Afghanistan.
The statement said that in the January to June period, MTN's subscriber base rose by 10.6 million to 251.5 million compared to end-2019.
Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) rose 10.9 percent to R41.8-billion.
"MTN delivered strong results for the period against the backdrop of difficult trading conditions, exacerbated by the unprecedented socio and macroeconomic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Shuter said.
He singled out strong performances in Ghana and Nigeria as well as a "pleasing turnaround" in South Africa.
However, "no interim dividend (was) declared due to uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 impacts," it said.