MTN boosted by end to Iran sanctions

MTN had, at long last, some reason to cheer on Monday after nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran were being lifted.

MTN has a 49% stake in Irancell, Iran’s second-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, and has been restricted from repatriating as much as $1.1 billion from the unit since 2013.

It was reported on the weekend that Iran has completed the necessary steps in a deal to restrict its nuclear program, meaning international economic sanctions have been lifted.

By 13h00, shares in MTN gained 1.63% at R119.71, having hit a daily best of R121.57.

MTN has endured a torrid time of late amid an ongoing court battle in Nigeria, its biggest market.

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) fined MTN ₦1.04-trillion (around R71-billion at the time) in October 2015 for not disconnecting unregistered SIMs on its network.

After negotiations with Nigerian authorities, the fine was reduced by 25% to ₦780-billion.

MTN then opted to take the matter to court in Lagos, thereby missing a 31 December deadline imposed by the Nigerian government.

The operator then staved off an attempt by the Nigerian government to freeze its accounts, after the Federal High Court in Lagos turned down the application last week.

Nigerian scribe, This Day, reported that the application was aimed at preventing the mobile operator from emptying its accounts in 21 commercial banks in the country.

MTN’s share price has slumped from a 52-week high of R239.53.

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MTN boosted by end to Iran sanctions