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Aug 08, 2012

Irancell reports growth as MTN awaits US court decision on Turkcell

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MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa discusses MTN's motion to dismiss the case brought against it by Turkcell in a US court. Recorded: 08.08.2012. Camerawork: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Shane Williams.
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South African telecommunications group MTN expected the US district court, in Washington, to decide later this year, or early 2013, whether to dismiss the case brought against it by Turkcell, CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said on Wednesday.

Turkey-based Turkcell, which was seeking damages of $4.2-billion, filed an opposition in July to MTN’s motion for case dismissal on the grounds that the US court held no legal jurisdiction over the case.

Dabengwa commented that the case should be held in a court in Turkey, South Africa or Iran. However, according to newswire Reuters, the Turkish mobile operator stated in its opposition filing that the case would not get a fair trial in South Africa owing to its political connectedness.

MTN had until August 15 to respond.

Turkcell alleged that MTN, in efforts to win a mobile licence in Iran, in 2005, violated the US Alien Tort Statute through the bribery of South African ambassador to Oman Yusuf Saloojee, who has been suspended while investigations into his links to the MTN deal were under way, and other South African government officials.

The company also claimed that MTN encouraged the South African government to support Iran’s civil nuclear power development programme and provide military equipment to Iran.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, launched a probe into the allegations. But, Dabengwa claimed that, while the police unit made enquiries, he was unaware of any case or docket being opened into the matter.

Further, independent investigations by an MTN board-appointed special committee, led by Lord Leonard Hoffman, continued.

Meanwhile, despite the challenges in Iran, including competition, an increasingly challenging economy, and US sanctions, MTN Irancell increased its market share during the six months to June 2012, to 47%, up from the 45% recorded in the last half of 2011.

MTN Irancell, in which MTN held a 49% shareholding, increased its subscriber base to 38.3-million – a 10.4% jump from 34.7-million at December 2011.

The company attributed this to its attractive value proposition and improved network quality, with the addition of 249 sites. The group now held 7 889 2G sites. MTN invested R418-million into network improvement during the six months to June.

However, MTN commented that the US sanctions on Iran impacted the roll-out of some projects, as equipment delivery has been delayed. The company stated that it was working closely with the relevant authorities to mitigate the sanctions.
 

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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