Economy, Sci & Tech

MTN to Retrieve $1b From Irancell Account

MTN to Retrieve $1b From Irancell AccountMTN to Retrieve $1b From Irancell Account

As South African President Jacob Zuma concluded a two-day visit aimed at bolstering trade relations with Iran, MTN, Irancell's part owner, said it would repatriate 15 billion South African rand ($1 billion) from Iran by June.

“The easing of sanctions on 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,” Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN’s group executive chairman, said at the release of its 2015 annual report, IOL reports.

“We are working towards the remittance of R15 billion during the first half of 2016,” Nhleko added.

Over $1 billion had accumulated and remained stuck in Iran after western sanctions banned the company from retrieving it earlier.

Turkish-owned Turkcell has clashed with MTN in the past when MTN won the license to operate Irancell. Subsequently, Turkcell lost a court challenge against MTN.

Sibonginkosi Nyanga, an analyst at Momentum SP Reid Securities, said MTN had been unable to repatriate dividends owing to the sanctions.

Nyanga said MTN would be able to allocate the money towards paying off the Nigerian fine.

“This is a significant development for MTN. If the funds can be repatriated from Iran, MTN may decide to channel the money to settle the Nigerian fine. MTN has already paid $250 million towards the Nigerian fine,” he said.

Nhleko said MTN had experienced an extremely difficult 2015, particularly in the last quarter of the year when the Nigerian Communications Commission imposed a $5.2 billion fine relating to subscriber registration requirements.