Photo: EPA

Johannesburg - Rob Shuter used his first quarterly report as chief executive officer of MTN Group to commit the wireless operator to major investments in its biggest markets of Nigeria, South Africa and Iran.

The spending plan “is expected to support further market share gains,” Shuter said in a statement on Wednesday. Africa’s largest carrier will also strive to take advantage of the continent’s relatively low data use and increase the range of services, he said.

“While we still have work to do to meet our full-year targets, we continue to leverage off the progress made during 2016 and are encouraged by the progress,” said the former Vodafone Group executive.

The announcement comes less than two months after Shuter began the task of reviving Johannesburg-based MTN after a $1 billion regulatory fine in Nigeria and weak growth in other markets led to a first-ever annual loss. Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko has made a host of further management changes to shake up the company, while the wireless operator has also benefited from a revival of the business in Iran.

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First-quarter revenue increased 7.1 percent, MTN said. That included a 4.1 percent rise in South Africa, a 12 percent gain in Nigeria and a 19 percent jump in Iran, where the company has benefited from the lifting of US-led sanctions.

Customer numbers rose 3 percent to 236.8 million at the end of March, across 22 countries. That was slightly down on the end-December figure after a review of the subscriber base in Zambia, Rwanda and Ghana, MTN said.

MTN shares declined 1.7 percent to R124.60 at 10 a.m. in Johannesburg, giving the company a market value of R235 billion. Since Shuter started as CEO on March 13, the stock has advanced 2 percent.