FILE PHOTO: A shopper walks past a Telkom shop at a mall in Johannesburg

Johannesburg - Telkom SA SOC said full-year earnings and the dividend both rose as South Africa’s biggest landline provider enters a new phase of growth by giving more autonomy to its four business units.

Earnings per share excluding one-time items increased by 12 percent 7.31 rand in the year through March, the Pretoria-based company said in a statement on Monday. Operating revenue gained 9.8 percent and the dividend payout rose 56 percent to 4.22 rand a share.

“We made significant strides in a difficult operating environment which was characterized by regulatory uncertainty, increased competition and a weak economic environment,” Chief Executive Officer Sipho Maseko said in the statement.

The integration of 2015 acquisition BCX into the business-to-business division and the accelerated growth of the mobile-phone unit drove the earnings increase, the CEO said.

Read also: Telkom shares jump 10%

Following a three-year turnaround strategy that returned Telkom to profit, Maseko is giving the company’s four business units more independence to further boost earnings.

The phone operator, almost 40 percent owned by the South African government, started a mobile unit, the country’s fourth biggest, to offset a decline in landline use and challenge market leaders Vodacom Group and MTN Group. Telkom shares rose 3.1 percent to 75.99 rand on Friday, and have soared more than 400 percent under Maseko’s watch. That values the company at 40 billion rand ($3.1 billion).

Capital expenditure increased 43 percent to 8.7 billion rand as the company invested in fibber networks and the wireless business. Mobile subscriber numbers rose by 48 percent to about 4 million.