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MTN asks court to throw out Turkcell suit

03 July 2012, 17:05

Johannesburg - South African telecoms company MTN asked a U.S. court on Tuesday to dismiss a $4.2 billion suit brought by Turkish rival Turkcell in connection with alleged underhand tactics to obtain a highly profitable Iranian mobile licence.

MTN said that the suit filed by Istanbul-based Turkcell had no legal merit and that the U.S. federal court in Washington, where the case was filed in February, did not have jurisdiction.

"MTN and MTN International both lack sufficient contact with the United States to be subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. court," it said in a statement. "MTN therefore remains confident that the claim will be dismissed."

Africa's largest mobile operator said that the court should also throw out the case because Turkcell had lost a related Paris arbitration hearing against the Turkish company's former Iranian joint-venture partner.

In its filing in Washington, Turkcell says that MTN bribed both South African and Iranian officials and asked South Africa to provide weapons to Iran to acquire the permit - allegations that have proved embarrassing for Pretoria and one of South Africa's biggest companies.

Turkey's largest mobile operator initially won a bid for the license in 2004, but Tehran later backed out of the deal and awarded the business to MTN in 2005. MTN generated $1.3 billion, or 9 percent of annual revenue, from its Iran venture last year.

Turkcell was expected to respond to MTN's dismissal motion by August 1. MTN would then give its reply by August 15, with a court decision expected later this year.



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