CORPORATE FORTUNES

Airtel Africa Plc Posts Stellar Performance In 2019

…Records Revenue Increase Of 11.2% At US$3.422M

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By Clifford Agugoesi

Airtel Africa Plc posted a set of strong results for the year ended March 31st 2020, which delivered pursuant to its Initial Public Offer(IPO) aspirations with performance sequentially improving during the period under review.  The announcement of the cheery results are happening simultaneously today at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE), respectively, Cyber Era exclusively learnt. 

Airtel Africa saw its customer base rise over the period by 11.9 per cent  to 110.6million, with Airtel Nigeria contributing over 50 per cent of the total figure. The telco’s revenue increased by 11.2 per cent to US$3.422million, with a fourth quarter(Q4)revenue growth rising by 15.1per cent.  Airtel Africa’ss revenue in constant  currency grew by 13.8 per cent in the full year and 17.9 per cent in Q4.  Growth recorded across all business segments, with voice revenue up by 5.2 per cent, data by 39 per cent and mobile money by 37.2 per cent.

Underlying Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation(EBITDA) growth in constant currency stood at 16.3 per cent.  Reported underlying EBITDA margin improved  to 44.3 per cent by 100 basis points- bps(up  94 bps in constant currency). The telco’s operating profit  grew by 22.8 per cent to US$901million and increased by 25.4 per cent in constant currency.  Free cash flow was US$453million, more than double compared to the same period last year.  Earnings Per Share(EPS) before exceptional items was US$7.3 cents and basic EPS was US$10.3 cents, a decrease of US$9.2cents. Net debts to underlying EBITDA was 2.1x compared to 3.0x in March 2019.

MD/CEO, Airtel Africa | Raghunath Mandava

Following the above, Airtel Board went ahead to recommend a final dividend of US$3cents per share, to a total dividend of US$6 cents per share.

Speaking on the trading update, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa Mandava Raghunat said: ”These are a strong set of results which delivered against our aspirations set out at the time of the IPO, with performance sequentially improving during the year.  Revenue increased by 11.2%,13.8 % in constant currency, and underlying  EBITDA  by 13.8%, 16.3% inconstant currency, to a reported US$1.515m, underpinned by significant improvement in our  Free cash flow generation and reduced leverage.  These results also demonstrate the strength and resilience of our business and the effectiveness of our strategy-with all three services, voice, data and mobile money, contributing to revenue growth.  We have also continued to invest in future growth opportunities as we expanded our distribution, modernized and expanded our network with 65% of sites now on 4G, acquired new spectrum in Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi and Chad and entered into strategic partnerships in our mobile money business.

“More recently, the markets where we operate have begun to be impacted by the COVID-19 and the related actions that governments have implemented to reduce the risk of contagion.  Our priority has been  to keep our colleagues , suppliers and customers  safe, whilst supporting the communities in which we operate.  Telecoms businesses provide strategically essential services to ensure the functioning of economies and communities and are, therefore, more resilient compared to some other sectors.  In Africa, the spread of the COVID-19 has lagged the rest of the world and, therefore,  it is difficult to precisely forecast what the impact of this will be on customers and business.  However, our performance during the month of April has been resilient as the business continued to deliver constant currency revenue growth, although at a lower rate.

“We enter this period of increased volatility in a strong  financial position and our view on the medium-term opportunities across our footprint has not changed, as these markets will continue to benefit from strong population growth  and the need for increased connectivity and financial inclusion,  Finally, I would like to thank wholeheartedly our employees and partners , without whom none  of this would be possible.”

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