South Africa’s MTN Group says it is continuing to defend itself in its long-running legal battle with Turkish firm Turkcell over MTN’s ownership of a 49% stake in Iranian operator Irancell. MTN says its offices were visited by officials from South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation last week to obtain documents relating to the case, and the group says it is ‘cooperating fully’ with authorities. MTN has labelled Turkcell’s claim as ‘opportunistic, an abuse of the process of Court, baseless and without merit’.
The ongoing case in South Africa is Turkcell’s fifth legal challenge against a decision to oust it as an Irancell shareholder in 2005. It is claiming up to USD4.2 billion damages from MTN Group, alleging that the South African company influenced the Iranian government’s decision to replace Turkcell with MTN. Irancell is now Iran’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers and the country is one of the biggest overseas markets for MTN.