MTN Group nears plans to sell majority stake in Syrian unit for $65Mn


South-African mobile telecommunications giant- MTN Group is committed to going ahead with a USD 65 million divestment of its 75% share in its Syrian business arm. Reportedly, MTN Syria was put under guardianship by a court in Damascus due to charges of violation in terms of its licensing contract, which deprived the government of revenue. Denying the allegations, MTN mentioned that it intended to appeal. The appointed guardian, who is the chairman of MTN Syria minority stakeholder-TeleInvest, will facilitate daily operations while the guardianship order will remain in place. However, the statement by the court did not indicate the duration. Previously, TeleInvest was in the pipeline to acquire a 75% share of MTN Group in MTN Syria for an undisclosed sum. The company said that MTN Group is focused on executing the transaction with TeleInvest to dispose 75% loans and shareholding for USD 65 million in total. The sale of TeleInvest forms a part of the Group’s exit from the Middle East market during the medium term. Rob Shuter, CEO, MTN Group believes that the company should lay its focus on the future of its pan-African strategy. To achieve the same, it will be exiting the Middle East in an orderly manner, the initial step being the sale of its 75% share in MTN Syria. In addition to the above, MTN Group’s business in the Middle East has been flawed by allegations that suggest that the giant used bribes to win a 15-year operating license in Iran and it also helped the militant groups in Afghanistan. Although, these allegations have been denied by the company. Notably, in 2020, MTN Syria was responsible for nearly 0.7% of MTN Group’s core profit. The Group holds approximately 262 million subscribers across the region, a majority of whom are in Africa. In the first half of 2020, the group added nearly 54 million customers to its 3G and 4G network services. Source Credit: