TeleGeography Logo

Sanctions continue to hinder MTN in Iran

24 Apr 2013

South Africa-based mobile operator MTN Group has been prohibited from repatriating funds from Iranian telco Irancell, its second-fastest growing market in terms of new subscribers, MTN chief executive Sifiso Dabengwa said in an interview. According to the official, MTN has been barred from recovering a EUR300 million (USD391 million) loan it made to its subsidiary MTN Irancell, as well as several hundred millions in profit made there, as a result of US, European Union and United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran to cut off funding for a suspected Iranian nuclear-weapons programme.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MTN Irancell is 51% owned by Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC) and 49% by MTN Group of South Africa. IEDC is controlled by Iran Electronic Industries (IEI) and Mostazafan Foundation. There is a requirement under Irancell’s concession that the owners divest a 21% stake via an initial public offer (IPO) three years after service launch, however, in November 2012 it emerged that the government was urging MTN Group to push ahead with the sale, which would see the South African firm’s interest drop to 38.7%, while IEDC would be left with 40.3%.

GlobalComms Database

Want more? Peruse the GlobalComms Database—the most complete source of intel about mobile, fixed broadband, and fixed voice markets.


TeleGeography is the definitive source for telecom news, numbers, and analysis. Explore the full research catalog.