MTN Group

"Mobile Telephone Networks" redirects here. For cellular radio networks, see cellular network.
MTN Group
Public company
Traded as JSE: MTN
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1994
Headquarters Johannesburg, South Africa
Key people
Phuthuma Nhleko
(Executive chairman), Rob Shuter
(Chief Executive Officer)
Products GSM-related products
Internet services
Revenue Increase US$ 15.432 billion (2015)
Increase US$5.22 billion (2015)
Increase US$3.345 billion (2015)
Total assets Decrease US$13.762 billion (2015),
Total equity Increase US$12.433 billion (2015)
Number of employees
17,509 (2010)
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 Asian countries. Its head office is in Johannesburg.[2] As of 30 September 2015, MTN recorded over 300 million subscribers across its operations.[3]

The company sponsored 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.[4] In March 2016, MTN Group, LTD appointed Rob Shuter as Chief Executive Officer.[5]


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 (formerly Areeba)
 Ghana 13.055 (formerly Areeba)
 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 (see MTN Syria, formerly Investcom)
 Swaziland 0.813
 Syria 5.723 (formerly Investcom)
 Uganda 8.9[8]
 Yemen 5.185 (formerly Investcom, operates under the Spacetel brand)
 Zambia 4.4


MTN's competitors 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 realised, the estimated worth of the combined entity would have been $70 billion (£35 billion), with 116 million subscribers worldwide.[9][10] 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.[11] The acquisition was completed on 28 February 2009.[12] MTN positioned themselves to provide DSL Broadband services in Africa, particularly South Africa, through its partnership with leading South African ISP, Afrihost.[13][14]

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.[15]

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 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 No. 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 criticised 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 US-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".[16]

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 US export laws. Hewlett-Packard issued a similar statement. MTN Group denied the allegations, saying that it complied with US sanctions against Iran.[17]

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 US human rights law on which Turkcell's suit is based.[18] In May 2013, Turkcell dropped its multibillion-dollar US lawsuit against MTN Group, citing a US Supreme Court ruling that hurt its case. On 27 November 2013,Turkcell resued in Johannesburg[19][20]

See also


  1. "M-Cell is Now MTN Group Limited." PR Newswire: 1. 11 October 2002. ProQuest. Web. 11 November 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. "". 18 March 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  5. Hill, Liezel; Prinsloo, Loni. "MTN Says New CEO Shuter to Join Early as Data Traffic Soars". Bloomberg. Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  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. Semakula, Othman (21 June 2016). "MTN appoints new group chief after Nigeria fiasco". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  9. "Exit Bharti, Enter Reliance in MTN Tango", Bloomberg Businessweek
  10. "India's Reliance Communications plans merger with MTN". The Times Online. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  11. "MTN buys Verizon South Africa". TeleGeography. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  12. "MTN completes purchase of Verizon Business" (Press release).
  13. "MTN Business and Afrihost in ground-breaking partnership". Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  14. "Company Announcement: MTN Business set to drive innovation into the Business World". Engineering News. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  15. "Shanduka Group Buys Stake in MTN Nigeria". Wall Street Journal. November 2012.
  16. "U.S. Lobby Group Seeks MTN Pullout From Iran". The Wall Street Journal. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  17. Paivar, Amir. "Iran mobile operator Irancell 'secures US technology'". BBC news. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  18. "Turkcell withdraws U.S. lawsuit against MTN Group". Reuters. 1 May 2013.
  19. Archived 2 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. "MTN Group Limited Integrated Report: Year Ending 31 December 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 12 November 2015.
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