October 25, 2012 / 8:36 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa's MTN adds nearly 4 pct subscribers in Q3

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JOHANNESBURG, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Africa’s largest telecommunications company, MTN Group, on Thursday reported a near 4 percent increase in subscribers in the third quarter and lifted its guidance for new users this year.

MTN said it expected to add 23.7 million new customers this year, up from its previous expectation of 21.25 million.

Subscribers rose to 182.7 million across its 21 operations in Africa and the Middle East. Earnings in Iran would be affected by the local foreign exchange depreciation, it said on Thursday.

MTN added 5,500 new subscribers in Iran over the three months to September, followed by 4,000 in Nigeria.

Irancell is MTN’s third-biggest operation but the company has be unable to repatriate its earnings because of U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.

The company is also facing a $4.2 billion U.S. lawsuit filed by Turkish rival Turkcell pertaining to alleged malfeasance when acquiring the Irancell licence in 2005.

MTN shares are up 1.5 percent at 153.36 rand as of 0823 GMT, and are up over 12 percent in the last six months. (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)

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