Orange ‘likely to buy stake in Iran’s MCI’

Orange ‘likely to buy stake in Iran’s MCI’

Orange is looking to buy a stake in Iranian mobile operator MCI, the company has admitted following a number of reports.

The French company has confirmed the reports in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, saying that it is conducting feasibility studies into buying a stake in MCI, which is owned by Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI).

“We are conducting feasibility studies to understand and assess what’s possible in this complex environment, particularly with regards to certain economic sanctions that apply to Iran,” a spokesman for Orange told the newspaper.

MCI is the largest mobile operator in Iran, with 50 million contract customers and 17 million on prepay. According to the industry’s trade association, the GSMA, the company runs only 2G services. Irancell, which is controlled by South Africa’s MTN, has 3G services.

Orange is looking at the political implications of investing in Iran, the company told the Wall Street Journal, given the fact that the country is still emerging from sanctions following the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that has started to relax trade rules.

“Like many other international operators, Orange has been considering opportunities in the Iranian market subsequent to the implementation of the JCPOA,” the company told the newspaper.

Orange told Reuters: “We anticipate that these discussions will be concluded within a few months.”