MTN asks court to dismiss Turkcell's $4.2bn Iran suit

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Dispute of Iranian mobile licence is more than a decade old, but MTN claims Turkcell's suit is "without merit" according to reports

MTN has demanded a High Court throws out a $4.2 billion lawsuit brought by Turkcell over a mobile licence in Iran granted 10 years ago, claiming the suit is “without merit”.

MTN labelled the suit, which was first filed in 2013 and is set to be heard in Johannesburg’s South Gauteng High Court, “an abuse of the process of court”, according to Reuters.

The African operator has denied claims by Turkcell that it paid bribes to South African and Iranian officials in order to secure an operating licence in the latter country. Turkcell estimates the suit at $4.2 billion based on profits the company claims it would have made had it been allowed to keep its Iranian licence.

Turkcell first obtained the licence in 2004, but claims MTN’s alleged action prevented it from taking up the agreement, before the African operator was granted the country’s second GSM licence as year later.

MTN’s business in Iran has grown substantially since with an estimated 49 million users, putting it as the number two player in the market, and MTN’s third largest market (of 22) altogether.

It is the second time Turkcell has brought action against MTN after it originally filed in the US. However, a US court said it could not judge the suit, leading the Turkish firm to bring the suit in South Africa. It has since been beset by numerous delays, as MTN objected to several parts of the suit, requesting numerous amendments.