Despite revenue growth of just 1% for the six months ended 30 June, MTN grew its subscribers by a healthy 7,5% to 152,3-million.

The group reported an EBITDA margin up 1,3 percentage points to 44,6%, free cash flow up 23,7% to R19,494-million, adjusted HEPS up 7,2% to 470,1 cents, an interim dividend of 273 cents per share and a payout ratio that increased to 65%.

The average rand:dollar exchange rate strengthened from R7,52 in the first half of 2010 to R6,80 during the period, dampening the reported results.

Notwithstanding a number of challenges, revenue increased by 1% to R56,542-million. There was strong subscriber growth in most of the group’s operations, including an encouraging performance in Sudan.

Political instability in Yemen and Syria continues to create a challenging business environment. Trading conditions in Cote d’Ivoire have improved following the disruptions in the first three months of the year. The dispute with the government of Guinea Conakry has been resolved.

The various group initiatives maintained momentum over the period and assisted in improving margins while sourcing and growing new revenue streams. These initiatives include:

* Continued investment in transmission (undersea cables and fibre) and radio technologies (2G, WIMAX and 3G) as well as mobile data solutions and sourcing of appropriate handsets. These have enabled the group to increase data revenues (excluding SMS) by 24,1% to R3,558-million and total data revenues (including SMS) by 14,2% to R6,950-million.

* Mobile Money has been implemented in 12 countries. Nigeria is expected to introduce this utilising a partnership model. At 30 June 2011, there were 5,1-million registered mobile money subscribers, with Uganda and Ghana, each accounting for 37% of the total.

* The shared services IT hub in the South and East African region is now operational and the procurement transformation project has gained momentum with cost savings targets being identified. Marketing and sponsorship costs have also been reviewed following the investments in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

* The conclusion of the tower deal by MTN Ghana and the first closing of 400 towers in May 2011. This marked the start of true infrastructure sharing and opportunities to unlock value. Other projects of this nature are under consideration.