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MTN Group

MTN Group
Traded as JSE: MTN
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1994
Headquarters Johannesburg, South Africa
Key people
Sifiso Dabengwa, President and CEO
Products GSM-related products
Internet services
Revenue US$ 12.43 billion (2014)
US$ 4.81 billion (2011)
US$ 2.915 billion (2011)
Total assets US$22.231 billion (2011),
Total equity US$11.360 billion (2011)
Number of employees
17,509 (2010)
Slogan Everywhere you go
MTN mobile shop in South Africa

MTN Group, formerly M-Cell,[1] is a South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company, operating in many African, European and Middle Eastern countries. Its head office is in Johannesburg.[2] As of 30 September 2015, MTN recorded 233 million subscribers across its operations.[3]

MTN Group's President and CEO is Raymond Sifiso Ndlovu Dabengwa (from 1 April 2011).[4] The company sp−onsored the CAF Champions League football competition as well as APOEL FC, winners of the Cypriot First Division in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and participants in the 2009–10 and 2011–12 UEFA Champions League.

On 18 March 2010, it was announced that MTN signed a sponsorship deal with English football club Manchester United F.C.[5]


  • Coverage 1
  • Business 2
    • Talks with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications 2.1
    • Acquisition of Verizon Business South Africa 2.2
    • International Carrier Services 2.3
    • Sale of Nigerian Stake 2.4
    • Most Admired African Brand 2.5
  • Controversy 3
    • Iran 3.1
    • Turkcell court case 3.2
    • NCC 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


MTN acquired Investcom, mainly under the Areeba and Spacetel brands.[6]

As of 1Q 2014,[7] MTN is active in:

Country Subscribers
(in millions)
 Afghanistan 6.058 (formerly Investcom)
 Benin 3.259 (formerly Investcom)
 Botswana 1.700 (operates under the Mascom brand)
 Cameroon 9.236
 Republic of Congo 1.865
 Cyprus 0.399
 Ghana 13.055 (formerly Investcom)
 Guinea 2.885 (formerly Investcom)
 Guinea Bissau 0.490 (formerly Investcom)
 Iran 41.783 (operates under the MTN Irancell brand)
 Ivory Coast 7.521
 Liberia 1.355 (operates under the Lonestar Cell brand)
 Nigeria 57.224
 Rwanda 4.001
 South Africa 24.875
 Sudan 8.672 (formerly Investcom)
 South Sudan 0.732 (formerly Investcom)
 Swaziland 0.813
 Syria 5.723 (formerly Investcom)
 Uganda 9.549
 Yemen 5.185 (formerly Investcom, operates under the Spacetel brand)
 Zambia 4.4


MTN's competition in South Africa includes Vodacom, Cell C, Virgin Mobile, and Telkom Mobile.

Talks with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications

In May 2008, it emerged that Bharti Airtel, an India-based telecommunications company, was exploring the possibility of buying MTN Group. The Financial Times reported that Bharti was considering offering US$19 billion for a 51% stake in MTN, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by an Indian firm.

Talks fell through after a few days and Bharti Airtel pulled out of the proposed deal on 24 May. Two days later, it was reported that another Indian telecommunications company, Reliance Communications, was in talks with MTN for a "potential combination of their businesses". If realized, the estimated worth of the combined entity would have been $70 billion (£35 billion), with 116 million subscribers worldwide.[8][9]

On 18 July, the two companies announced that they had mutually decided to end discussions regarding the merger.

Acquisition of Verizon Business South Africa

In June 2008, MTN Group agreed to purchase Verizon Business South Africa, which was a provider of data services to corporate customers in South Africa and four other African countries.[10] The acquisition was completed on 28 February 2009.[11] MTN positioned themselves to provide DSL Broadband services in Africa, particularly South Africa, through its partnership with leading South African ISP, Afrihost.[12][13]

International Carrier Services

On 26 June 2009, MTN Group participated in Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), a subsidiary of Belgacom, by merging it with its own subsidiary, MTN ICS. BICS will function as official international gateway for all international carrier services of Belgacom, Swisscom and MTN Group. These companies respectively hold 57.6%, 22.4% and 20.0% of the shares of the company.

Sale of Nigerian Stake

South African holding company Shanduka Group acquired a minority stake in MTN Group’s Nigeria business for $335 million in November 2012.[14]

Most Admired African Brand

On 22 October 2015, MTN emerged as the Most Admired and the Most Valuable African brand, valued at US$ 4,672m, its second award in two years. Brand Africa announced at its the 4th Annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands gala event in Johannesburg, that MTN is the overall best brand on the continent and reclaims the #1 spot as the Most Admired Brand in Africa.

MTN has won a number of brand awards in recent years. These include being named the only African brand in the 2014 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand ranking, the only South African company on the World Champions list and the Most Admired and Most Valuable Brand in Africa, in the 2014 Brand Africa 100 ranking of the most admired and most valuable brands in Sub-Saharan Africa.



MTN has been criticized for its activities in Iran's telecommunications sector. MTN has a 49 percent stake in government-controlled MTN Irancell, the second-largest mobile phone operator in Iran, and 21 percent of MTN's subscriber base is from the country. In January 2012, the U.S.-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) launched a campaign publicly calling for MTN to scale back its operations in Iran and end its business in the country. UANI alleges that MTN technology is "enabling the Iranian government to locate and track individual cellphone users which it says is a violation of users' human rights".[15]

In June 2012, Reuters and the BBC reported an allegation by Chris Kilowan, a former executive for the company in Iran, that MTN Group may have been complicit in securing American telecommunications technology from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems on behalf of Irancell, in violation of trade sanctions against Iran. Oracle, which owns Sun Microsystems, said that it was investigating and denied involvement, saying that it complies with U.S. export laws. Hewlett-Packard issued a similar statement. MTN Group denied the allegations, saying that it complied with U.S. sanctions against Iran.[16]

Turkcell court case

Turkey's Turkcell filed a $4.2 billion lawsuit in Washington, D.C., in 2012 alleging the company used bribery to win a mobile licence in Iran that was first awarded to Turkcell. The court delayed the case in October 2012 pending a US Supreme Court decision on the Alien Tort Statute, the U.S. human rights law on which Turkcell's suit is based.[17] In May 2013, Turkcell dropped its multibillion-dollar U.S. lawsuit against MTN Group, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that hurt its case. On the 27th of November 2013,Turkcell resued in Johannesburg[18][19]


See also


  1. ^ "M-Cell is Now MTN Group Limited." PR Newswire: 1. Oct 11 2002. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2013 .
  2. ^ Home. MTN Group. Retrieved on 15 August 2011. "Head Office South Africa" ,"14th Avenue Johannesburg 2196 South Africa"
  3. ^ GSMA Intelligence. "GSMA Intelligence — Research — Operator group ranking, Q2 2014". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ "". 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  6. ^ Stewart Bailey (2 May 2006). "MTN Agrees to Buy Investcom for $5.5 Billion in Cash". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Quarterly update for the period ended 31 March 2014" (PDF). MTN Group. 24 April 2014. p. 4. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Exit Bharti, Enter Reliance in MTN Tango", Bloomberg Businessweek
  9. ^ "India's Reliance Communications plans merger with MTN". The Times Online. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  10. ^ "MTN buys Verizon South Africa". TeleGeography. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  11. ^ "MTN completes purchase of Verizon Business" (Press release). 
  12. ^ "MTN Business and Afrihost in ground-breaking partnership". Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  13. ^ "Company Announcement: MTN Business set to drive innovation into the Business World". Engineering News. 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  14. ^ "Shanduka Group Buys Stake in MTN Nigeria". Wall Street Journal. November 2012. 
  15. ^ "U.S. Lobby Group Seeks MTN Pullout From Iran". The Wall Street Journal. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  16. ^ Paivar, Amir. "'"Iran mobile operator Irancell 'secures US technology. BBC news. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Turkcell withdraws U.S. lawsuit against MTN Group". Reuters. 1 May 2013. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Nigeria telecom giant MTN fined a record $5.2bn". BBC. 26 October 2015. 

External links

  • Official website
  • 2007 annual report
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