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The Rise Fund Plans to Invest $200 Million in Airtel Africa’s Mobile Money at $2.65 Billion Valuation

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airtel africa - Investors King

Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications and mobile money services provider, on Thursday announced it has signed a deal under which The Rise Fund, an impact investing global platform of leading alternative investment firm TPG, will invest $200 million in Airtel Mobile Commerce BV (AMC BV) at $2.65 billion valuation.

Airtel Africa stated in a statement signed by Simon O’Hara, Group Company Secretary, Airtel Africa.

The telecommunications giant said the money will be used to cut down the company’s debt and improve investment in network and sales infrastructure in its operating nations.

According to Airtel Africa, The Rise Fund will hold a minority stake in AMC BV upon completion of the $200 million deal. The transaction is the latest step in the company’s pursuit of strategic asset monetization and investment opportunities.

Airtel Africa further stated that it is in talks with other potential investors in relation to possible additional minority investments into Airtel Money, up to a total of 25 percent of the company’s issued share capital of AMC BV.

Key Financial Highlights of Airtel Mobile Service

  • Generated revenue of $110 million ($440 million annualised), and underlying EBITDA of $54 million ($216 million annualised) at a margin of 48.7%.
  • Year on year revenue growth for the quarter was 41.1% in constant currency, largely driven by 29% growth in the customer base to 21.5 million, and 9.7% ARPU growth.
  • Growth in transaction value was 53.0% to $12.8 billion ($51 billion annualised).

Speaking on the deal, Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa, said “In line with our vision of enhancing financial inclusion, Airtel Africa offers a unique digital mobile financial services platform under the Airtel Money brand.

“In most of our markets there is limited access to traditional financial institutions, and little banking infrastructure, with less than half of the population having a bank account across sub-Saharan Africa. Our markets therefore afford substantial market potential for mobile money services to meet the needs of the tens of millions of customers in Africa who have little or no access to banking and financial services, and this demand is driving growth.

“With today’s announcement we are pleased to welcome The Rise Fund as an investor in our mobile money business and as a partner to help us realise the full potential from the substantial opportunity to bank the unbanked across Africa.”

Yemi Lalude, Partner at TPG who leads Africa investing for The Rise Fund, added: “Financial inclusion is a global issue that is most acute in Africa. Through Airtel Money, Airtel Africa has built a unique platform that is closing the gap between traditional financial institutions and the millions of unbanked Africans across the 14 countries where Airtel Africa operates. We look forward to working with Airtel Africa to enhance their mobile money services, broaden its use cases, and grow into new markets.

“With this investment in Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations, we are excited to expand The Rise Fund’s global fintech portfolio and continue to deepen our focus on improving financial inclusion in Africa and around the world.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Telecommunications

MTN Nigeria Loses 7.6 Million Subscribers Amid Regulatory Restrictions

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Karl O Toriola - Investorsking.com

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Africa’s leading telecommunications giant, reported a 7.6 million decline in subscribers to 68.9 million in the first half of the year.

MTN Nigeria reported in its unaudited financial statement released on Friday and obtained by Investors King.

MTN Nigeria Key Highlights

• Mobile subscribers declined by 7.6 million to 68.9 million, impacted by the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations
• Active data users declined by approximately 52,000 to 32.5 million
• Service revenue was up by 24.1% to N790.3 billion
• Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 27.6% to N417.2 billion
• EBITDA margin improved by 1.4 percentage points (pp) to 52.7%
• Capital expenditure was up by 39.1% to N186.4 billion (up 50.6% to N114.5 billion excluding right of use [RoU] assets)
• Dividend per share of N4.55 kobo, up 30%.

Speaking on the results, MTN Nigeria CEO, Karl Toriola, said “In the first half of 2021, we made good progress strengthening the resilience of the business, managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and enhancing support to our people, customers and other stakeholders. We extended our commitment to the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) with an additional N3 billion contribution over a two-year period, half of which has already been paid.

This is in support of efforts to promote the health and security of Nigerians, as we navigate our way through the pandemic; and in line with our Y’ello Hope initiatives through which we provided support to our broad base of stakeholders to the value of approximately N25 billion in 2020.

Our progress towards achieving greater business resilience is reflected in the upgrade by Global Credit Ratings (GCR) of our national scale long-term issuer rating to AAA and affirmation of our national scale short-term rating of A1+ with a stable outlook. This puts MTN Nigeria on the highest possible GCR scale for short-term and long-term ratings, providing a solid platform for growth.

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of MTN’s presence in Nigeria. As we celebrate this milestone, we are pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has approved our participation in the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme. This is in response to Government’s drive towards public-private partnerships in the rehabilitation of critical road infrastructure in Nigeria. We intend to participate in the restoration and refurbishment of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. Conversations in this regard have already commenced, and further announcements will be made in due course.

In line with our desire to plant deeper and more permanent roots in Nigeria, we have also initiated plans to commission a purpose-built, state of the art MTN Head Office, designed to act as a central hub for our network, a catalyst for creativity and innovation, and a showcase for the flexible working structures that are driving
efficiency gains in this new normal working environment. Aligned with our wider commitment to environmental sustainability, it will meet the highest global environmental standards, demonstrating the role of green technology in our future.

Following MTN Group’s stated intention to sell down up to 14% of its investment in MTN Nigeria, subject to market conditions over the medium-term, MTN Nigeria’s shareholders approved an equity shelf programme at the last Annual General Meeting.

This will facilitate a process to increase ownership of the Company by more Nigerian retail and institutional investors. Alongside this, we further localised our predominantly Nigerian management team with the appointment of Nigerians to two key senior positions (Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Information Officer) previously held by expatriates.

MTN Nigeria continues to invest in improved world class services and its network, accelerating the expansion of our 4G coverage and providing home broadband. As part of our rural connectivity programme, we plan to connect approximately 1,000 rural communities to our network this year with additional 2,000 communities in
2022.

We are delighted that these are translating into strong operational performance in line with the objectives of Ambition 2025. In the next 3 years, we will invest over N600 billion to expand broadband access across the country in support of Government’s Broadband Plan.

Operationally, our mobile subscribers closed H1 at 68.9 million, down 9.9% from December 2020. This was due to the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations, which was lifted on 19 April 2021. Although the initial run-rate of additions has been slower than usual due to new process requirements, we anticipate
growth to normalise in the short-term as more of our acquisition centres are certified for SIM registration.

Finally, our Board of Directors has approved an interim dividend of N4.55 kobo per share to be paid out of distributable net income. This represents a growth of 30% over N3.50 kobo per share paid in H1 2020.”

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Telecommunications

NCC Sets Fresh Operational Fees, Spectrum Prices For Telecommunications Operators

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Nigerian Communications Commission

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set up an annual operating regulatory levy to ensure that all licenses were properly and equitably assessed to meet statutory and regulatory expectations.

This was disclosed by the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, during the Public Inquiry on two regulatory instruments draft held on Thursday, in Abuja.

Danbatta explained that the two key regulatory instruments were tailored to meet the challenges and to further strengthen the market structure of the industry.

The instruments include the Annual Operating Regulations and the Frequency Spectrum Regulations, which fees and pricing fall under.

He said “The first instrument will bring the regulations in line with current realities and sustain the enviable contributions of the communications sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

“The second instrument is a vehicle that enables the commission to meet its role and exclusive mandate in Section 121 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 by assigning this scarce national resource in an equitable manner. The regulations also ensure that frequency spectrum are assigned and managed in a way that ensures fair pricing and efficient deployment of attendant services. The public inquiry is precursor to the commission’s current drive to ensure efficiency in spectrum management and unveiling of next-generation services through varied enablers.”

Deploying 5G
The NCC Boss informed that the Commission had commenced the process of deploying Fifth Generation (5G) technology in Nigeria, which largely depended on the appropriate frequency spectrum.

With the explosion in technologies, Danbatta said there was also an attendant secondary reliance on different approaches to maximize frequency spectrum.

He noted that this led to the need for designation of several bands of frequency spectrum for communications services and a key illustration was the recent identification of some Spectrum frequencies for 5G deployment.

Professor Danbatta assured that the Commission was conscious of the expectations and the need to ensure that the required regulatory frameworks were in place to meet these challenges.

He noted that this had made the reviews, which the Commission was conducting an important milestone as the public inquiry is pushing the country to the front queue of this global efforts.

“We must be prepared on both ends of the industry to push the country forward for these remarkable changes; while the licensees continue to invest in deployment. The Commission will sustain its drive-by ensuring regulatory efficiency and excellence,” the NCC Boss restated

He expressed optimism that the review would ensure effective and efficient utilization of frequency spectrum and also ensure a fair approach to the management of finance in the industry in the near future.

Danbatta urged participants to make their contributions freely and raise issues that would assist the Commission in developing and issuing regulatory instruments that would continually contribute to the development of the industry and sustain its positive contributions to the nation’s economy.

Earlier, in her address, the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services of the Commission, Ms. Josephine Amuwa, said the objective of the public inquiry was to secure the buy-in of all stakeholders and ensure the efficiency of the regulatory instruments when implemented.

She explained that the Commission decided to review the Annual Operating Regulations 2014 and the Frequency Pricing Regulations 2004 to ensure that the regulatory instruments issued were abreast with developments in the industry.

According to Amuwa, the Annual Operating Levy Regulations review will look at the current licensing structure and ensure that all the spectra of licensees will be properly covered.

“Another key part of the review is to clarify and clearly outline the benchmarks for assessment. This will not only ensure regulatory certainty but further entrench transparency in the process. On the other hand, the review of the second regulation, the Frequency Spectrum (Fees and Pricing) Regulations is expected to provide more guidelines on the parameter for determination of proper fees and pricing of spectrum. This will also make adequate provisions for different spectrum licensing processes and their assessment parameters,” she explained.

Present at the event were the Executive Commissioner, Technical Standards, Engineer Ubale Maska, the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Directors, Deputy and Assistant Directors as well as External Stakeholders.

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Telecommunications

Airtel Africa Customer Base Rises by 8.4 Percent to 120.8 Million in Q1, 2022

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Airtel Africa Plc - Investors King

Airtel Africa Plc, a leading telecommunications company in Africa, grew its customer base by 8.4 percent to 120.8 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022.

The telecoms giant recorded strong revenue in Nigeria, up by 38.2 percent and posted 32.8 percent in East Africa while it achieved 24.9 percent in Francophone Africa.

Airtel Africa’s first quarter begins from April to June of the current year and the year ended in the first quarter of the following year. Hence, why it is quoted Q1 2022.

Airtel Africa Q1 Highlights

 Q1’22 Reported revenue grew by 30.7% to $1,112m, with constant currency growth of 33.1%. Revenue growth partially benefitted from a weakened quarter in the prior year during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions across the region. Even after adjusting for these effects, revenue growth rates for the Group, service segments and reporting regions were all ahead of Q4’21 trends.
 Strong revenue growth was recorded across all regions: Nigeria up 38.2%, East Africa up 32.8% and Francophone Africa up 24.9%; and across key services, with revenues for voice up 26.0%, data up 37.4% and mobile money up 53.7%.
 Underlying EBITDA grew by 42.4% to $534m in reported currency, while constant currency growth was 46.2%.
 Underlying EBITDA margin was 48.0%, an increase of 396 basis points(increase of 428 basis points in constant currency) led by both revenue growth and improved operational efficiencies.
 Operating profit was $352m, up 67.6% in reported currency and 73.9% in constant currency.
 Profit after tax more than doubled to $142m, up 148.7%, largely due to the higher operating profits along with stable net finance costs which more than offset the increase in tax charges due to increased profits.
 Basic EPS was 3.3 cents, an increase of 200%, as a result of higher profit and stable finance costs and foreign exchange. EPS before exceptional items was 3.2 cents.
 Operating free cash flow (underlying EBITDA less capex) was $428m, up 38.7%.
 Customer base grew by 8.4% to 120.8 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.8%) and mobile money services (customer base up 24.6%). The slowdown in customer base growth was due to new SIM registration regulationsin Nigeria; excluding Nigeria the customer base grew by 15.9%.

Commenting on the company’s performance, Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, said “Our Q1’22 results have been very strong, with reported growth of 30.7% in revenue and 42.4% in underlying EBITDA, with constant currency growth of 33.1% and 46.2% respectively. Q1 of last year was impacted by the start of Covid, but even after adjusting for these effects, our Q1’22 revenue growth rates for the Group, service segments and reporting regions were all ahead of Q4’21 trends.

We have posted strong double-digit growth across voice (26.0%), data (37.4%) and mobile money (53.7%), and across all our regions. Sub-Saharan Africa is now experiencing a third wave of the pandemic. Governments are implementing balanced measures of lockdowns and restrictions. But vaccinations levelsremain very low. In these challenging times our business model has so far proven resilient, but we continue to monitor the situation closely for the potential impact on local economies and consumers.

Our total customer base has returned to growth with acceleration in our East Africa and Francophone regions and despite continuing negative net additions in Nigeria. With the easing of these restrictions in late April we have since been able to gradually increase locations for activations in line with regulatory compliance across Nigeria, and we have begun adding new customers.

Our continued focus on modernisation and rollout of our network, along with simplifying our products and improving our distribution, have all helped us to make handsome gains on our ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money. Our robust operating model and solid execution should enable us to continue our profitable growth.

We continue to see huge potential across voice, data and mobile money due to the low penetration levels in Africa, as we continue to partner the nations in bridging the digital divide and enhancing financial inclusion. We remain committed to continue to efficiently and effectively deliver services that help to improve the lives, communities and economies we serve.”

 

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