Johannesburg-based emerging markets mobile operator MTN Group has issued its response to a Syrian court’s ruling dated 25 February 2021 placing its MTN Syria unit under ‘judicial guardianship’. The move followed a lawsuit dated 17 February this year, submitted to the Administrative Court of Damascus by the Syrian Ministry of Telecommunications and the Syrian Telecommunications and Post Regulatory Authority requesting measures against the mobile unit. In its ruling the Court has reportedly appointed the chairman of Tele Invest – the minority shareholder in MTN Syria – as guardian with ongoing responsibility for day-to-day operations. It notes that MTN Syria remains ‘a going concern’.
In a strongly worded response MTN Group disputes the allegations made before the Court and said it ‘strongly disagrees’ with the Court’s decision and will lodge an appeal. Further, it has said it is considering other options and appropriate steps in light of the ruling, while restating its commitment to continued compliance with all local laws.
MTN Group has previously stated its intention to exit the Middle East in an ‘orderly manner’ and as Moneyweb reports, the Syrian business contributed just 0.7% of group EBITDA in 1H20. On 28 February it told the market it remains committed to negotiating a USD65 million sale of its 75% stake in its Syrian unit, despite the business being placed under judicial guardianship.