South African Telecoms Giant MTN To Pull Out Of Mideast

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Africa’s largest mobile operator, South African telecoms giant MTN, announced Thursday 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% 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.

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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 41.8 billion rand ($2.38 billion, 2.01 billion euros).

“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.


Striking S.Africa miners attack police, one dead

Thousands of protesting miners burnt tyres and torched a police office near Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg mine in South Africa on Thursday as a month-long strike at the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal turned violent.

Striking S.Africa miners attack police, one dead

Police also said a miner who was beaten up during an overnight demonstration near the Rustenburg plant had died of his injuries.

Up to 5,000 miners were blocking the road leading to the mine, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, provincial police spokeswoman Adele Myburgh said. One female police officer had been injured by flying stones, she added.

“This has been ongoing for a while but this morning they regrouped, started intimidating people who wanted to go to the mine, there were people assaulted, vehicles were stoned,” Myburgh said.

“The road was barricaded, vehicles travelling on that road were stoned, private vehicles as well as heavy-armed police vehicles.”

Implats’ Rustenburg operations have been brought to a halt for a month because of a dispute stemming from the sacking of 17,200 employees after a wildcat strike on January 12.

The company said the closure had cost 1.2 billion rand in lost output, and the lack of production has helped push world platinum prices higher.

Myburgh said police had made eight arrests, but the situation was far from under control. “The situation is obviously very tense and hostile,” she said