MTN, the South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company stated this week that they would pull out at least one billion dollars of their money from Iran, in two months. During the sanctions, MTN’s money was being blocked in Iran.
When the sanctions got lifted in January, it took a few months for Iran to join the global economy. As South African president visited Iran, MTN announced that it would repatriate at least one billion dollars by the end of June.
“The easing of sanctions in Iran and its related economic uplift offers significant opportunities to expand our services in the country, particularly in the digital space where we have a strong market position,” said Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN’s group executive chairman, in MTN’s 2015 annual report. “We are working towards the remittance of R15bn (one billion dollars) during the first half of 2016.”
MTN owns 49% of Irancell, the second biggest mobile phone network operator in Iran. As MTN allowed, the money could be transferred in accumulated dividends and a loan repayment from its Iranian unit. MTN had a bad year in 2015, especially in the last quarter which Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed 5.2 Billion Dollars fine on MTN for subscriber registration requirements.
“The $5.2bn fine imposed by the NCC for the late disconnection of 5.1 million improperly registered subscribers, and its subsequent reduction at the NCC’s discretion to $3.9bn, was the most material and multi-faceted challenge the group faced in 2015,” said Nhleko.
As previously reported MTN entered in negotiations to take part in the national fiber optic and broadband internet project months ago. MTN is joining Iranian Net as an investor. MTN already has a great market in Iran. The fact that it can repatriate its money from Iran makes it even more reasonable for them to invest more in the country. The other two mobile operators in Iran should watch out for MTN’s activities in the country, since the company is entering other markets such as E-commerce and broadband internet infrastructure. Not to mention the fact that these activities would bring synergy to all of MTN’s businesses in Iran which would eventually lead them to become a powerful empire in the country.