Africa telecom giant MTN reports 1st annual losses in years

Africa's giant telecommunications group MTN is announcing full-year losses for 2016 driven by a $1.1 billion Nigerian fine and damaging foreign exchange rates. The losses are the company's first in two decades.

But the group still will pay dividends of 700 South African cents a share — a move that saw its share price rise nearly 10 percent Thursday on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. That compares to dividends of 1,109 cents a share on 2015 profits.

A statement to shareholders Thursday put MTN's losses at 147 billion rand ($108 million), though subscribers increased by 7.7 million to 240 million.

MTN called 2016 the most challenging in its 22-year history.

It blamed last year's losses on a $1.1 billion fine in Nigeria for having 5.2 million active but unregistered SIM cards.