December 28, 2017 / 7:21 AM / 3 months ago

MTN assigns $231 mln shareholder loan to African phone tower group

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 28 (Reuters) - MTN Group, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, said on Thursday it had assigned a $231 million shareholder loan to phone tower group, IHS Holding Ltd, impacting its 2017 profits.

MTN, which returned to profit in the first half of its financial year in the absence of one-off charges related to a $1.1 billion Nigerian fine, said the assignment of the loan to IHS will lead to a loss of 2.8 billion rand ($228 million) on transfer of the carrying value of the loan.

The loss on transfer will impact headline earnings per share (HEPS) for 2017, the main profit measure in South Africa that strips out certain one-off items, but not earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), the firm said.

MTN said the loan, which is due in 2024/2025, will allow its Nigerian unit to continue to invest in its network and simplify MTN’s interests in IHS.

“The agreement will enable MTN and IHS to mutually benefit from continued investment and commitment to the rollout of broadband and data services in Nigeria,” MTN said in a statement.

MTN formed a joint venture partnership with specialist tower company IHS in 2014 to own and operate MTN’s transmitter towers in Nigeria.

IHS has operations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda and Zambia. ($1 = 12.2576 rand) (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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