MTN Leaving Liberia?


— According to the US news agency Bloomberg, the move is part of a plan by MTN Group Ltd to trim its portfolio and focus on a large market. 

The parent company of Lonestar Cell MTN is planning to exit Liberia to focus resources on core markets, including Nigeria and Ghana.
The news comes as Lonestar, which is majority owned by MTN Group Ltd, Africa's largest mobile operator, is reportedly in advanced talks to sell some of its assets to Axian Group Ltd, according to US news agency Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, the deal is yet to be finalized as negotiations are still ongoing but would affect Liberia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, if Axian Group Ltd decides to go through with it. 

The three countries accounted for a paltry 1.6% of MTN’s revenue in 2022. As such, the sale would help MTN narrow its focus and resources on bigger markets, which are core markets to its plan.

Axian is a Madagascar conglomerate and, in 2022, Axian bought Millicom International Cellular’s Tanzanian operations. 

The firm’s telecommunications unit has invested in towers, undersea cables, data centers, financial technology as well as a number of phone operators in countries such as Madagascar and Senegal. 

According to Bloomberg, MTN's CEO, Ralph Mupita, has been evaluating the company’s portfolio in recent months, and the move to sell some of its West African markets comes as part of a broader strategy to trim its portfolio and streamline its operations.

MTN is one of the most valuable companies in Africa, with a significant presence in 19 countries in the region. 

The company’s mobile phone services have become an essential part of everyday life for millions of people, and it has consistently been a top performer in the annual ranking of Africa's top 250 listed companies by African Business.

However, the combined market capitalisation of the top 250 companies has fallen from $701 billion to $561 billion since last year’s survey, impacting MTN's overall value. 

The decline in the market value of companies across the continent is primarily attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains, reduced demand, and slowed economic growth.

Launched in 2001, Lonestar Cell MTN is one of Liberia's leading telecommunication companies and has the largest shares of the country’s mobile money market, which is now dominating Financial transactions, with usage up in two consecutive years.

According to the Central Bank of Liberia 2022 annual report, the value of transactions carried out through mobile money platforms surged to L$281.7 billion and US$2.2 billion, respectively.

This represents a significant increase from the 2021 figures of  L$251.4 billion and US$1.4 billion, making mobile money a key driver in promoting financial inclusion in the country, particularly in rural areas where access to traditional banking services is limited.