April 8, 2015 / 7:19 AM / 4 years ago

South Africa's MTN to access $1 bln after easing of Iran sanctions

A customer leaves an MTN shop in Johannesburg April 10, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African mobile phone operator MTN Group has said easing of sanctions against Iran would allow it to transfer about $1 billion in accumulated dividends and a loan repayment from its Iranian unit.

MTN, which owns 49 percent of unlisted Irancell, the Middle Eastern country’s second-biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, has been restricted from repatriating money from Iran owing to the sanctions imposed by the West.

“We have in total an equivalent of about $1 billion, which is both a loan repayment from Irancell due back to MTN, as well as accumulated dividends,” Nik Kershaw, head of investor relations at MTN told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The lifting of the sanctions would then allow us to start to repatriate some of the money.”

Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement last week on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme for at least a decade in exchange for lifting sanctions against Tehran.

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