Picture: Reuters

 Johannesburg – MTN, Africa’s largest cellphone company by subscribers, will invest R540 million in Iran.

The company, which already has an operation in Iran, will make the investment into Iranian Fixed Broadband Provider, Iranian Net, for a 49 percent stake.

MTN, which has been trying to repatriate money out if Iran, says it will also make addition investments of about R3.4 billion both equity and loans to facilitate Iranian Net meeting its rollout targets over the next five years.

In a statement issued on Monday, the company notes the preliminary agreement remains subject to finalising suitable transaction agreements.

Iranian Net has a national licence for the construction and operation of an optical data transmission network and fibre optic access network across Iran.

This investment, should it be completed, represents an opportunity to capitalise on the continued strong growth expected in the Iranian broadband market, with an initial focus on eight of the main cities, says MTN.

MTN has recently been battling and has revamped its executive team following a mammoth R10 billion fine in Nigeria.

It received the find for not cutting off unregistered mobile users.

Read also: MTN delivers first ever loss

The fine was one of the reasons for its reporting its first ever loss for the year to December.

In March, the mobile giant reported its first ever loss of 77c a headline share.

This was despite a 3.3 percent increase in subscribers to 240.4 million.

MTN also noted in March that its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the year to December declined 13.2 percent to R51.98 billion as revenue increased marginally by 0.4 percent to R146.9 billion.

The listed company, with operations in Africa and the Middle East, noted its results “reflect the most challenging year in the company’s 22-year history, precipitated by a number of material regulatory, macro-economic and political challenges experienced across our regions”.