Iran is one the most remaining untapped emerging markets.
The country has more than 80 million people that are highly educated and seeking to be connected to the vast digital world.
The country’s economy is being spurred by vast natural resource endowment.
MTN’s growth in Iran has been impressive to watch.
In the first half of 2017, MTN Irancell increased total revenue by 19,3% benefiting from encouraging data revenue trends.
South African-based MTN want to increase its footprint and investment in Iran.
The telco has signed a non-binding preliminary agreement to invest approximately R540 million into Iranian Fixed Broadband Provider, Iranian Net, for a 49% stake, with further investments of approximately R3,4 billion in both equity and loans to facilitate Iranian Net meeting its rollout targets over the next five years.
MTN said in a statement that the preliminary agreement remains subject to finalising suitable transaction agreements.
Iranian Net has a national licence for the construction and operation of an optical data transmission network and fibre optic access network across Iran.
“This investment, should it be completed, represents an opportunity to capitalise on the continued strong growth expected in the Iranian broadband market, with an initial focus on eight of the main cities,” said MTN in a statement.
The investment is in line with MTN’s vision to deliver a bold, new Digital World to our customers.
MTN is invested in Iran, holding 49% of MTN Irancell, a biggest mobile phone operator in the country.
The company has started the process to repatriate about R15 billion in MTN Iran.
Economic sanctions were lifted in January in the Middle Eastern country, enabling Iran to re-enter the global economy. This also enabled MTN to start the process of repatriating its funds from Iran.
“We are pleased to report that we have commenced the repatriation of cash from MTN Irancell to the Group and expect to conclude the process over the next six months,” Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN’s executive chairman, said in last October.
The MTN funds had been blocked since early 2012 because of Washington’s sanctions against Tehran.