News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Thursday, 21 May 2009

More snags for strategic investors eyeing Iran

I was saying only yesterday that telcos looking to invest in the Islamic Republic of Iran have faced some daunting problems. This came up in a brief discussion of Etisalat's stalled attempt to grab the country's third national mobile licence, as well as the problems Turkcell faced when trying to get hold of the second licence a few years ago.

I also mentioned that last year I hosted a conference at which Russian cello MegaFon signalled its interest in the third licence.

At that same conference, the Iranian delegation in attendance were talking up the attractiveness not only of the GSM/UMTS concession but also of two other investment opportunities - the sale of WiMAX-suitable spectrum and the part privatisation of the country's national incumbent wireline operator, TCI. One party interested in the latter opportunity now seems to have hit snags of its own, according to to TelecomPaper.

Telekomunikasi Indonesia, says the article, had announced in January that it planned to form a consortium with unnamed Iranian Government agencies to purchase a 20% stake in TCI. The article cites reports from the Jakarta Globe, whose journalist has been told by Telkom Vice President Heri Supriadi that the deal will not go ahead until "political hurdles" are cleared.

The TelecomPaper article suggests that one of these hurdles would be the matter of Telkom's US shareholders, which include pension funds, being forced to sell their holdings because of the US sanctions against Iran.

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