Johannesburg - MTN, Africa’s largest wireless operator, added fewer subscribers than forecast in the third quarter as competitors drew away customers and regulations limited growth.
The carrier added 2.2 million customers for a total of 203.8 million at the end of September.
The growth slowed from an increase of 6.3 million users on average over the previous three quarters.
It largest market, Nigeria, added just 358,000 customers after expanding the user base by more than 9 million in the previous three quarters, Johannesburg-based MTN said.
MTN fell as much as 2 percent in local trading.
Operating in more than 20 countries across the Middle East and Africa including Iran and Syria, MTN is reviewing its cost base in South Africa and may eliminate jobs.
Along with Vodacom, the continent’s wireless companies are looking at other African markets as consumers turn to more data-enabled devices.
“The third quarter has been characterised by lower than anticipated subscriber growth following ongoing price competition and subscriber registration requirements across a number of markets,” MTN chief executive Sifiso Dabengwa said in the statement.
“Data and mobile money remain a key focus for the group with traditional voice revenue under pressure.”
The company’s Nigerian unit has been affected by a mandatory SIM registration deadline, disconnections in Borneo state where services were shut down and lower connections based on the earlier-generation GSM technology, MTN said in the statement.
“These factors will continue to impact net additions for the balance of the year,” the company said.
MTN shares traded 0.9 percent lower at 199.32 rand at 9:22 a.m. in Johannesburg.
The stock gained 13 percent this year through yesterday. - Bloomberg News