12 Things You Didn’t Know About South Africa-Iran Relations

Written by Dana Sanchez
MTN Irancell is the second largest mobile operator in Iran.
Photo: heraldboy.com

South African cell phone giant MTN is expanding in Iran

South African cell phone giant MTN owns a 49 percent stake in Tehran’s Irancell Telecommunication Services, and has been repatriating some of the $1 billion trapped in Iran while U.S.-led sanctions were in place. Now MTN is trying to secure an agreement with the Iranian government to acquire a 49 percent stake in a state-owned internet provider. A civil complaint filed in Washington, D.C. federal court claimed MTN elbowed Turkcell, a Turkish competitor, out of a 49 percent stake through bribes paid to Iranian officials. The complaint had over 60 pages of documentation, including detail about vehicles and military equipment South Africa would provide to Iran if MTN. The weapons were never delivered, and the Turkcell case was withdrawn in May 2013 because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that international corporate civil suits could no longer be tried in U.S. court. MTN’s Iran deal nets it over $117 million a year. Irancell’s Iranian owner is a holding company whose investors include Iran Electronics Industries, a government-connected electronics and defense company that had been under U.S. sanctions since September of 2008.

Source: The Tower, Bloomberg