Strong growth boosts MTN subscriber base

MTN, which is currently in talks to buy Egypt's Orascom Telecom, boosted subscribers by nearly 7percent in the January-March first quarter.

MTN, which is currently in talks to buy Egypt's Orascom Telecom, boosted subscribers by nearly 7percent in the January-March first quarter.

Buoyed by strong growth in major markets such as Iran and Nigeria, MTN said it added 7,6million subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total users to 123,6million as of end-March.

Its South African unit showed little growth, however, increasing by just 2,2percent to 16,4million subscribers.

"I think what one has to accept is that the local market is saturated and that's why they are looking for opportunities," said Abri du Plessis, chief investment officer at Cape Town-based Gryphon Asset Management.

If MTN's acquisition of Orascom goes through, it will become the world's third-largest mobile phone operator.

However, Algeria's government said on Wednesday it would block a key part of the deal.

Should MTN acquire Orascom, it will have 217million users, compared to world leader China Mobile's 522million users and Vodafone's 333million users, based on 2009 data. - Reuters

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