MTN in Iran: should they stay or go?

There is no shortage of controversy when it comes to MTN’s Iranian operation, IranCell. The year-long internal investigation led by UK judge Lord Leonard Hoffmann dismissed allegations brought by rival Turkcell that MTN had got its Iranian licence through corrupt means. Turkcell has since dropped its US$4,2bn law suit but the sudden departure of MTN finance chief Nazir Patel has brought the matter to the fore again.

“acceptable channels that are compliant with applicable sanctions for repatriation of these funds”

According to the Sunday Times, his resignation relates to attempts to get money out of the country. But despite the cloud hanging over it , the Iranian operation has been a great investment for the mobile operator.

“empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information”

It contributes 10% of MTN’s total revenue and the company holds 47% of the Persian market. Cash flow problems brought on by US sanctions against Iran regarding its nuclear programme, however, have raised doubts about whether the group can afford to remain there.

MTN says it will stay as long as the SA government allows it to but that the sanctions are making it difficult to move money in and out of the country , or access debt facilities and buy equipment. US and European Union financial institutions won’t allow it.

MTN stated in its 2012 annual report that it had cash of about R7bn on hand which it could not transfer because of the sanctions imposed on Iran and Syria.

By News Wall


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