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S.Africa’s MTN exits Yemen in Middle East pull-out plan

South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd said on Thursday it would exit Yemen, as the largest African mobile operator pursues its strategy to leave the Middle East and focus on its core operations in the continent.

MTN said it would transfer its stake to a unit of an affiliate of Zubair Corp LLC, MTN Yemen’s minority shareholder, adding that no further material impact was expected on earnings due to the exit as the company had fully impaired the Yemeni assets as of June 30.

Last year, the company announced an exit from the Middle East to focus on the African continent, as part of its efforts to simplify its structure and reduce exposure to riskier markets.

A focus on Africa was also led by increasing competition from its main rival Vodacom, the African unit of British telecom giant Vodafone, which had been striking partnerships to expand aggressively in the continent and pushing into financial services.

“The decision to exit Yemen was driven by a need to simplify the portfolio and focus our limited resources on executing a pan-African strategy,” MTN Group Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita said.

The company had exited its business in Syria in August, saying operating in the country was “intolerable.”

MTN, with 278 million subscribers across 21 markets, has also been exiting its non-core assets including the tower business to unlock value for future investments in boosting its network capacity and services. Reuters

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