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Political opposition calls Irancell licence award into question

2 Aug 2004

Iran’s reformist government has urged its hardline Conservative opponents not to scupper two landmark investment deals with Turkish companies. Political opponents have called for both projects to be stopped on the basis that they endanger national security and that the companies have links to the ‘Zionist regime’. One of the deals in danger concerns the establishment of a second wireless network by a consortium headed by Turkcell; the group has strenuously denied having any business links with Israel. The other contract concerns the contract to manage Imam Khomeni International Airport which was awarded to Tepe-Akfen. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is believed to have brought the matter to the top of his agenda on his recent visit to Iran, but agreement could not be reached.

The Turkcell consortium, which was expected to operate under the banner Irancell, comprises the Turkish cellco, Ericsson and a number of Iranian companies. It won the GSM900/1800 licence in February 2004, when it offered EUR300 million for the concession, beating off bids from Kuwait’s MTC, South African cellco MTN and Orascom Telecom of Egypt. It announced plans to invest about USD3 billion in the project, making it one of the biggest foreign investments in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. If it gets off the drawing board, Irancell will compete against Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI), the country’s sole wireless network operator.

Iran, Turkcell
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