MTN close to Iran pact
MTN is closing in on an agreement with the Iranian government to acquire a 49% stake in a state-owned internet provider as it seeks to expand in a fast-growing yet politically challenging market, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Company officials were planning a meeting with Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi later this month to finalise the purchase of shares in Iranian Net, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.
The move would help smooth over the process of repatriating funds from the Middle Eastern country as the government would prefer some profit to be invested locally, one of the people said.
MTN spokesperson Chris Maroleng said: “MTN continues to see growth potential in Iran, and we look at opportunities on an ongoing basis to build on and complement our existing footprint.”
A deal would fuel MTN’s expansion in a market that opened up to foreign investors after the lifting of US-led sanctions last year.
MTN already owns a 49% stake in Tehran’s Irancell Telecommunication Services, and has been repatriating some of the $1 billion (R13.34 billion) that had been trapped in Iran before restrictions were removed.
The purchase of the stake in Iranian Net is expected to be completed before the end of the first quarter.