Reports from Iran are suggesting that South African telecoms group MTN is looking to acquire a 49% interest in national fibre-optic backbone provider Iranian Net. According to TechRasa, which cites the Tasnim news agency, MTN is seeking a 49% stake in Iranian Net, equivalent to its interest in the country’s second largest mobile operator, MTN Irancell.
Iranian Net is currently 80% state-owned, with the remainder held by private sector investors. It has been tasked with deploying fibre infrastructure in cities across the country under a four-year monopoly contract awarded in 2012, but it has failed to meet any of its rollout goals, reportedly due to a lack of capital. MTN has around USD1 billion of funds at Irancell which it was unable to use outside of the country prior to the lifting of economic sanctions in January this year. The Iranian government is said to be keen to see some of the money remain in Iran, with an investment in the wholesale fibre provider expected to be announced in the coming months.