MTN Group Ltd., a South African company, is selling its subsidiary in Afghanistan, MTN Telecommunications Company, to M1 New Ventures, a Beirut-based company, for $35 million.
The South-African based reportedly entered an agreement with the M1 company after it decided to reduce its presence outside the continent, resulting in a Middle East exodus.
As part of its efforts to streamline its structure and lessen its exposure to riskier countries, MTN announced plans in 2020 to leave the Middle East and concentrate on its core business in Africa.
It left the Syrian and Yemeni markets in 2021. Days after US soldiers left Afghanistan, it started talking to prospective bidders about selling its regional activities in Afghanistan. The business announced in August 2022 that a buyer had been found, although it did not give the buyer’s identity.
MTN began operating in Afghanistan in 2006. It reportedly holds a 40% market share, making it the industry leader ahead of Etisalat.
The agreement, which has been inked on Friday, heralds the start of the group’s withdrawal from the Afghan market, where its activities have grown more difficult in recent years due to socio-political and economic concerns.
After the Afghanistan agreement is finalized, MTN’s lone Middle Eastern investment will be a 49% stake in Irancell, international media reported.
This occurs at a time when many media outlets, startups, and businesses including online shopping services have shut down or been sold as a result of Afghanistan’s political unrest and Taliban takeover.