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TeleGeography’s Irancell Update: Day 7,364

5 Oct 2005

South African mobile group MTN now leads the race to become the major foreign investor in Iran’s second GSM mobile operator, according to Reuters quoting local news sources. Following 38 months of legal and political wrangling, the Irancell consortium was finally granted Iran’s second GSM mobile licence last month, after Turkcell confirmed that it would retain its much-reduced 49% stake in the venture. However, since then the Turkish company has been unable to agree the specifics of the deal with the Iranian government and MTN now appears the more likely investor, with some sources claim an agreement has already been reached.

‘MTN has put a frozen sum of EUR270 million in The Standard Bank of South Africa for Iran’s Bank Melli so the deal can be finalised,’ Irancell board member Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh told Iranian state television. Reuters claims that an international source has backed up Mahmoudzadeh’s claims. Despite this, Turkcell says it remains confident that it will still take the 49% stake in Irancell. The Turkish company has appealed to a parliamentary commission, claiming that the state’s decision to enter negotiations with MTN is a breach of contract under the tender it won last year.

Iran, MTN Group, MTN Irancell, Turkcell

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