MTN is to offer a stake in Botswana for sale

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The MTN Group [JSE:MTN] Individuals who are familiar with the matter are considering selling their stake in Botswana's largest mobile operator as Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter tries to reduce the number of countries in which the company operates.

Disposing of the stake in Botswana's Mascom could do as much as R2.5bn people said who asked not to be identified because the sales process is ongoing and nothing has been made public. While Shuter initiated a review of MTN's 22-year markets a year ago, the Johannesburg-based company has so far only completed the sale of its Cyprus operation.

MTN declined to comment.

Shuter wants to sharpen MTN's focus on growth areas and evaluate where it does not necessarily need a presence. Some markets, such as South Sudan and Syria, have been plagued by conflict, while others have been adversely affected by local regulatory intervention and government intervention.

Compared to MTN's largest markets, these include Botswana, which had nearly 1.7 million customers by the end of September, compared to MTN's 225 million subscribers in Africa and the Middle East.

Back taxes

The consultations take place when MTN prepares for the release of its full-year results on Thursday while fighting fires on several fronts. Most prominently, the carrier is accused of paying $ 2 billion in tax refunds in Nigeria, its largest market. A hearing is scheduled for the end of this month.

The stock plunged more than a third last year and fell for the seventh consecutive day on Tuesday.

Last week, the company said earnings in 2018 would be adversely affected by factors such as exchange rate losses and the settlement of a separate Nigeria dispute for $ 53 million. MTN closed the year at 1%, down from R77.26 per share on the JSE and valued at R45.6 billion.

MTN's Botswana business, along with Iran and Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, is one of only three country entities that MTN operates as a joint venture. MTN acquired a 44% stake in Mascom in 2005 and owns the airline along with local investors.

The carriers would also like to sell their businesses in Liberia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau in West Africa, it was said last year. Orange SA, based in Paris, is a competitor in all three countries as well as in Botswana.