MTN close to Iran pact

CityPress - - Business -

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.

– Bloomberg

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