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South African telco giant MTN retains top brand title

South African telecom giant MTN, once in serious talks with Bharti Airtel for a merger, has retained its title as the country”s most valuable brand despite a 2 per cent brand value loss over the past year.

The annual brand rankings of South Africa”s top 50 companies were announced here on Thursday by Brand Finance South Africa.

Brand Finance is the world”s leading independent brand valuation consultancy, bridging the gap between marketing and finance by quantifying the financial value of brands.

Over the last year, MTN, Africa”s largest mobile operator, has celebrated solid profits and impressive subscriber growth, which currently stands at over 250 million across 23 countries.

In 2009, nearly 18 months after talks started between Bharti Airtel and MTN in South Africa to create what would have been a telecom”s giant straddling three continents (Middle East included), the deal was scuppered after both the governments found issues over the control of a merged company.

Analysts said MTN”s success as a brand was even more remarkable given that in recent years it has been under international scrutiny from regulators in several countries for allegedly not complying with local laws.

These included a massive fine in Nigeria a few years ago; allegations of paying bribes to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan; and claims of trying to bypass sanctions to acquire equipment for Iran in a partnership there.

But besides having survived all these challenges, MTN has also triumphed over the competition brought on by OTT messaging apps such as WhatsApp, as well as the COVID-19 crisis, to keep its losses low.

South African private health group Life Healthcare, which a year ago sold its 49.7 per cent stake in India”s Max Healthcare after a disappointing five years in which it made no profit, emerged as the fastest growing South African brand in the ranking, recording an impressive 29 per cent brand value increase to Rand 2.4 billion.

Life Healthcare brand has also successfully turned the tide on its fortunes following a turbulent few years negotiating the fallout from the Competition Commission”s Health Market Inquiry report, where the sector was placed under increased scrutiny for rising consumer costs and lack of transparency, both of which damaged brand values.


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