On the Money News: In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

* Nigerian telecoms operator Starcomms has reported that its revenue for the three months ended 31 March 2010 fell 6.8% year-on-year to NGN7.94 billion (USD51.6 million). Turnover was hit by a 32% decline in average revenue per user (ARPU) from NGN1,002 to NGN680. The fixed-wireless company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped 32% year-on-year to NGN1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010, while operating costs rose 12.4%, mainly due to higher network operating costs and maintenance charges resulting from the significant network expansion; the telco’s infrastructure now covers 22 states, 31 cities and over 170 towns. Net interest expenses more than doubled after the firm converted a USD60 million loan into naira. Starcomms reported a 16% increase in its total active subscribers to 2.66 million, pushing up data revenues as a percentage of total service revenues to 26% in Q1 compared to 20% in the same period a year earlier. Data revenues totalled NGN1.8 million in the quarter, an increase of 21% year-on-year.

*Zimbabwean government-backed mobile operator NetOne has received a USD45 million loan from Export-Import Bank of China to expand the coverage and capacity of its network, with the aim of more than doubling its subscriber base, Reuters reports, quoting local state-owned media. NetOne, the country’s third largest cellco, said that the loan will ‘significantly impact on service and quality.’ Its managing director, Reward Kangai, announced: ‘We hope that with this provision, we will be able to cover the whole country,’ adding that subscribers will rise ‘from 700,000 to two million by the end of this year.’