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S.Africa’s MultiChoice year profit almost quadruples

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JOHANNESBURG, June 10 (Reuters) – MultiChoice’s annual profit almost quadrupled, Africa’s biggest pay-TV group reported on Thursday, buoyed by 9% growth in South Africa and lower losses elsewhere in Africa.

MultiChoice has been investing since 2019 in local content across the continent and cost reduction measures to increase profitability.

Its headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, for the year to March 31 rose to 4.96 rands ($0.36) from 1.28 rand.

Like other video entertainment companies and streaming services, MultiChoice benefited from the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year as people spent more time at home and consumed more content on their devices.

Multichoice subscribers topped 20 million in the year, a growth of 7% over the previous year. South Africa accounts for more than 40% of its total subscribers.

“We have a highly engaged base of 20.9m (million) subscribers and with an average of five people per household, this helps us reach approximately 100 million people,” Chief Executive Calvo Mawela said.

An increasing subscriber base helped the company grow its revenue by 4% year-on-year to 53.4 billion rand, MultiChoice said.

The company is now facing competition from international heavyweights such as Netflix that are expanding in the African market and adjacent sectors like gaming that also battle to win screen time.

MultiChoice said on Thursday it had increased its holding in a pan-African sports betting company, Betking, from 20% to 49% “in line with its strategy to expand its entertainment ecosystem and develop meaningful drivers of future value”.

Its shares slipped 0.18% to 136.95 rand, in line with the broader index at 1215 GMT.

It maintained its dividend at 565 cents per share.

($1 = 13.6533 rand) (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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