MTN  is contemplating the sale of its stake in Botswana’s biggest wireless carrier, according to folks familiar with the matter, as Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter seeks to lower the quantity of nations in which the firm operates.

A disposal of the interest in Botswana’s Mascom could produce as a lot as R2.five billion ($175 million), stated the folks, who asked not to be identified due to the fact the sale procedure is ongoing and nothing at all has been publicly disclosed. Though Shuter kicked off a critique of MTN’s then-22 markets a year ago, the Johannesburg-primarily based firm has to date only completed the sale of its Cyprus operation.

MTN declined to comment.

Shuter is hunting to sharpen MTN’s focus on development regions and evaluate exactly where it does not necessarily have to have a presence. Some markets, such as South Sudan and Syria, have been ravaged by conflict, even though other individuals have been a burden due to neighborhood regulatory and government interventions. Nonetheless far more are tiny when compared to MTN’s biggest markets. That involves Botswana, which had pretty much 1.7 million consumers at the finish of September, Compared with MTN’s 225 million subscribers across Africa and the Middle East.

The deliberations come as MTN prepares to report complete-year earnings on Thursday even though fighting fires on various fronts. Most prominently, the carrier is accused of owing $two billion of back taxes in Nigeria, its most significant marketplace, with a court hearing scheduled for later this month.

The shares have slumped far more than a third in the previous year, and fell for a seventh consecutive day on Tuesday. Final week, the firm stated 2018 earnings would be hurt by things which includes foreign-exchange losses and the settlement of a separate Nigeria dispute for $53 million.

MTN’s Botswana company is also a single of only 3 nation units that MTN operates as a joint venture, alongside Iran and Eswatini, formerly recognized as Swaziland. MTN purchased a 44% stake in Mascom in 2005 and co-owns the carrier with neighborhood investors.

The carrier would also like to sell its Liberia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau companies in West Africa, folks familiar with the matter stated final year. Paris-primarily based Orange SA is a competitor in all 3 of these nations as effectively as Botswana.