South Africa-based mobile giant MTN Group has announced that discussions with US authorities over how the company can repatriate funds from Iranian telco MTN Irancell – its second-fastest-growing market in terms of new subscribers – are still ongoing, MENAFN.com reports. As previously noted by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, MTN had been barred from recovering a EUR300 million (USD391 million) loan it made to its subsidiary MTN Irancell, as well as several hundred millions in profit generated in Iran, as a result of US, European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions intended to cut off funding for a suspected Iranian nuclear weapons programme. According to the article, MTN Group’s CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said: ‘Discussions are advanced. We believe a resolution will be reached before the end of the year.’ The executive also stated that the company is in discussions with the South African Reserve Bank and the US State Department and Treasury.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MTN Irancell is 51% owned by Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC), backed by Iran Electronic Industries (IEI) and Mostazafan Foundation, and 49% by MTN Group. In April 2013, however, MTN Group’s CEO admitted that the South African company would exit its Iranian operation if there was any clear indication the US government would impose sanctions on the business.