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The Johannesburg-based company announced that MTN Group is selling its Afghanistan business for $35 million to Beirut-based M1 New Ventures, owned by Lebanon’s Mikati family, to exit the Middle East. This news comes alongside the release of the company’s third-quarter results.

The group abandoned its Syrian business and transferred its Yemen unit to a partner. Since the US withdrawal in August 2021, MTN has had difficulty operating in Afghanistan, where it is the biggest operator; however, it remains active in Iran.

Its Middle East exit is part of a wider group strategy to focus operations on Africa, which it embarked on in 2020. MTN CEO and President Ralph Mupita said the operator remained resilient under difficult macroeconomic, geopolitical and regulatory conditions, delivering a solid operational and financial performance.

MTN expects outcomes by the first quarter of next year and highlighted that data traffic grew almost 40% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2022, and customers in the fintech business increased by 23.3% to 63 million in the third quarter from a year earlier, with transaction volumes up by a third to 9.5 billion, added Mupita.

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