February 20, 2017 / 3:17 PM / 6 months ago

South Africa's MTN extends push into Iranian e-commerce

A worker walks past an outlet of South Africa's MTN Group in Johannesburg, South Africa, February 23, 2016.Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's MTN has increased its investment in an Iranian e-commerce business, it said on Monday, without disclosing the size of the transaction.

MTN, Africa's largest mobile phone company, told Reuters last year that it planned to expand in Iran, where it has a leading position but from which it has not been able to repatriate profits until recently due to U.S. sanctions.

MTN said its Iranian unit Irancell led a funding round for the Iran Internet Group (IIG) to accelerate the e-commerce group's growth.

IIG runs Snapp.ir, a car-hailing platform which MTN last year backed with a $22 million investment, as well as online marketplace Bamilo.com and food-ordering service Zoodfood.com.

"Over the past two years we have seen incredible growth at IIG, and this investment by our local partner is testament to the strength of the group's business model and management team”, MTN Chief Digital Officer Herman Singh said.

MTN, which set aside about $700 million in capital expenditure, part of it to revamp Iran's network infrastructure, has said it is growing its extending its reach into the nation's e-commerce rapidly particularly in retail and travel sectors.

Reporting by TJ Strydom

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