South Africa’s MTN Group is to acquire a 49% stake in Iran’s state-backed ISP Iranian Net for ZAR540 million (USD40 million). MTN, which already has a 49% interest in Iran’s second largest mobile provider, MTN Irancell, has also said that it will invest ZAR3.4 billion over the next five years to help fund the ISP’s network rollout targets, with a particular focus on the country’s eight main cities. A deal between MTN and Iranian Net has been rumoured for several months.
Iranian Net is currently 80% state-owned, with the remainder held by private sector investors. It has been tasked with deploying fibre infrastructure in cities across the country under a four-year monopoly contract awarded in 2012, but it has failed to meet any of its rollout goals, reportedly due to a lack of capital.