February 6, 2024

Airtel reveals plan to buy back $100m shares

Airtel commences NIN registration in retail outlets across Nigeria


•As revenue in constant currency grew by 20.2%

By Peter Egwuatu

Airtel Africa Plc, has revealed plans to buy back up to $100 million of its shares even as it sustained operating momentum in its financial performance for  nine months 2023 despite continued foreign exchange headwinds.

Airtel,    in its the nine months financial statement ended December 31, 2023 sent to the Nigerian Exchange Limited, NGX , said   its revenue in constant currency grew by 20.2%, with Q3’24 growth accelerating to 21.0%.

The company, in Q3’24, reported currency revenues declined by 8.3% as currency devaluation (primarily the Nigerian naira devaluation) continued to impact reported revenue trends.

Meanwhile, Airtel, in the financial information stated: “Total customer base grew by 9.1% to 151.2 million. The penetration of mobile data and mobile money services continued to rise, driving a 22.4% increase in data customers to 62.7 million and a 19.5% increase in mobile money customers to 37.5 million.

Mobile money transaction value increased by 41.3% in constant currency, with Q3’24 annualised transaction value of $116 billion in reported currency.

Profit after tax was $2 million in the period, primarily impacted by significant foreign exchange headwinds, particularly the $330million exceptional loss after tax following the devaluation of the Nigerian naira in June 2023.

Commenting on the results, Olusegun Ogunsanya, Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “We remain focused on the execution of our growth strategy and, combined with our strong operational execution, this has ensured that we continue to see sustained, positive growth momentum across the business, despite the inflationary and currency headwinds. Demand remains resilient, highlighting the vital nature of the voice, data and mobile money services we provide to our customers across the region, and has resulted in a strong 20.2% constant currency revenue growth over the period, with an increase in EBITDA margins.”

Continuing, he added: “I am pleased to note that our sustained focus on capital allocation priorities will enable us to fully repay HoldCo debt when due in May 2024, ensuring the continued success of our balance sheet de-risking strategy. This will allow us to continue investing in our strategic priorities to provide affordable and reliable services to customers across our markets, whilst also enabling us to capitalise on new business opportunities, such as our new data centre business, Nxtra by Airtel, which we launched in December.

“In light of our consistent strong operating performance and given current leverage, the Board intends to launch a share buy-back programme of up to $100m, starting early March 2024 over a 12-month period. We continue to be well positioned to deliver on the attractive growth opportunities our markets offer and despite the challenge of rising diesel prices, ongoing currency devaluation and inflationary pressures across some of our markets; we remain focussed on margin resilience.”