Turkcell Sues South Africa’s MTN Over Iran Mobile License

Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone operator, sued South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. for a second time over the award of an Iranian mobile license.

Turkcell filed the claim in a Johannesburg court as the latest step in an attempt to obtain compensation relating to the tender for a license awarded to MTN in 2005, the Istanbul-based company said in a statement today.

“Turkcell was awarded Iran’s first private Global System for Mobile Communications license in 2004, but was unlawfully prevented from receiving the license,” Turkcell said. “Information received by Turkcell indicates that our company’s exclusion, and the signing of the license agreement with MTN, was a consequence of MTN’s illegal acts, including bribery and corruption.”

Turkcell sued MTN in the U.S. in March 2012 for $4.2 billion over the loss of the Iranian license. Turkcell claimed Africa’s largest wireless operator bribed officials, arranged meetings between Iranian and South African leaders, and promised Iran weapons and United Nations votes in exchange for a license to provide wireless services in the Islamic Republic. Turkcell withdrew the lawsuit in May.

Turkcell said it “filed a lawsuit against MTN before the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, South Africa, seeking damages.” The decision to re-file in a different jurisdiction was a “continuation of the legal process that was initiated in U.S. courts,” it said.

Court Documents

MTN has yet to receive Turkcell’s court documents and will defend itself against the allegations, head of investor relations Nik Kershaw said by phone today.

“Although we don’t have details of the case, MTN continues to believe that there is no legal merit to Turkcell’s claim and will accordingly oppose it,” the wireless operator said in an e-mailed statement.

MTN shares increased 0.9 percent to 196.98 rand at the close of trading in Johannesburg. About 2.7 million shares traded, or 45 percent of the three-month daily average. The stock has gained 11 percent this year. Turkcell advanced 0.4 percent today in Istanbul.

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