The South African mobile group says it has received a binding offer of $35 million for its Afghanistan business
MTN announced back in 2020 that it was rethinking its global strategy, aiming to focus more heavily on its core African markets and suggesting it would withdraw from its Middle Eastern businesses in the medium term.
Progress was swift, with the company quickly announcing plans to sell its stakes in MTN Syria and Irancell, as well as withdrawing from Yemen and Afghanistan.
However, MTN’s plans to sell its stake in its Syrian unit were quickly caught up in considerable legal trouble with the Syrian regulator, with the latter ultimately putting the operator under the judicial guardianship of its minority stake holder, TeleInvest. By August 2021, MTN said the situation had become ‘intolerable’, announcing they would withdraw from the market entirely.
Later that same year, MTN announced that it had sold its majority stake in MTN Yemen to Emerald International Investment, and affiliate of Zubair Corporation, the minority stakeholder in the unit.
Financial details of the Yemeni sale were not reported, with MTN saying the primary motivation for the sale had been its decision to focus on its ‘pan-African strategy’, rather than the unit’s flat performance. The decade-long political-economic and humanitarian crisis in the country no doubt also played a role in dissuading MTN to continue in what would otherwise be a market with strong growth prospects.
Now, MTN has announced that it has found an anonymous buyer for its Afghanistan business, with MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita telling journalists that the company has received a binding offer for $35 million.
This will leave Irancell, in which MTN holds a 49% stake, as the Group’s last remaining business in the Middle East. The unit has been far MTN’s most stable investment in the region and, according to Mupita, will remain within the MTN portfolio.