MTN Group Ltd. (MTN), Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, said its subscription base expanded 5.2 percent in the first four months of 2012 and it accelerated its share buyback as the stock declined.
MTN has boosted the number of mobile subscribers to more than 173.1 million, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. France Telecom SA (FTE)’s Orange brand had 147 million customers as of the end of last year.
Revenue in the first four months of the year increased by a “double digit” percentage as the South African rand weakened against the dollar, the company said. The rand, MTN’s reporting currency, has weakened 19 percent against the dollar since June last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The company said it bought 1.36 billion rand ($163 million) of shares between March 8 and yesterday, more than the 927 million rand it bought back in the year through December. The stock has dropped 6 percent so far in 2012.
“The MTN board will continue to implement share buybacks on an opportunistic basis,” said the company. This brings total spending on buybacks to 2.29 billion rand, including purchases in 2011, MTN said.
MTN said it is working with the U.S. to manage its compliance with sanctions against Iran, its third-biggest market. The company said it continues to consult international legal advisers to remain compliant with measures taken by the European Union, the U.S. and the United Nations. The company will only exit Iran if South Africa imposes sanctions on the oil-producing nation, Chief Executive Sifiso Dabengwa said on March 7.
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