MTN up following Iran deal

The mobile operator gained over 2% after the West secured a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

The mobile operator gained over 2% after the West secured a landmark nuclear deal with Iran. Picture: defenceweb.co.za.

JOHANNESBURG - Shares of MTN Group gained more than 2 percent on Monday on hopes a landmark deal on Iran's nuclear programme may unlock millions of dollars the mobile operator has locked up in its largest Middle East market.

Six world powers, including the United States, reached the deal with Iran on Sunday to curb Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

MTN, Africa's largest mobile operator, has been unable to repatriate around $450 million from its Iranian unit because of sanctions.

The Johannesburg-based company said in a statement it was still too early to tell the impact from the agreement, adding it was monitoring developments.

But investors were betting the deal was likely good news. Its stock added 2.1 percent to R197.76 by 1005 GMT.

"The agreement over the weekend had a positive impact on sentiment towards the stock, but I think one would need clarity on how that would affect MTN's operations," said Nedbank Private Wealth trader Andrew Bryson.

MTN operates in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East and owns 49 percent of MTN Irancell, which contributed nearly a quarter of its 2012 revenue.

It cut its full-year target for new subscribers by nearly 10 percent, as the sanctions against Iran dampened consumer demand.