S.African telecom operator MTN's Q1 revenue jumps 18%

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JOHANNESBURG, May 5 (Reuters) - Mobile operator MTN Group (MTNJ.J) on Wednesday posted a near 18% jump in first-quarter revenue, led by a double-digit growth in commercial operations across South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.

MTN and its peer Vodacom Group (VODJ.J), which together control over 70% of the South African mobile market in terms of subscribers, hugely benefited last year from demand boost for data and digital financial services as people shifted to online modes of functioning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's revenue from fintech operations, which account for 10% of total revenue, expanded by 31% on the back of an 87% increase in online financial transactions.

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MTN said in the first quarter of 2021 data consumption grew by a third led by "sustained demand for work-from-home service, digital entertainment as well as online education offerings".

The company's revenue for the quarter ended March 31 was up 17.8% at 42.3 billion rand ($2.93 billion).

MTN's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), which measure its operating profit, were up 21.3%. EBITDA margin widened to 44.2% from 42.7% from a year earlier.

The company's shares have risen by over 200% since the market crashed in mid-March last year.

($1 = 14.4250 rand)

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Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Tom Hogue and Vinay Dwivedi

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