Turkcell and MTN to settle out of court?

Turkcell may look to settle out of court with South African mobile operator MTN, over bribery allegations to secure a mobile license in Iran, an analyst has told BusinessTech.

Shares in MTN gained R3.78 or 2.57%, to R150.93, in afternoon trade on the JSE.

On March 28, the Turkish-based telecoms firm filed a complaint in U.S. District Court of Columbia, Washington DC, against MTN Group, demanding $4.2 billion in damages over the award of the cellular licence in Iran in 2004.

TurkCell claimed that MTN used political and monetary lures to enhance its relationships and leverage its position within Iran. “MTN undertook to eliminate Turkcell and take over [the license for itself], by bribing the Iranian government with promises of nuclear votes, defense equipment, and outright cash payments,” a portion of the complaint read.

MTN owns 49% of Irancell, the group that was awarded the second Iranian GSM licence.

“Turkcell wants to settle away from the courts,” a local analyst told BusinessTech. However, he added that a lot of information had already come out of the dispute which has subsequently led to separate investigations in South Africa.

In June, elite crime-fighting unit the Hawks confirmed that it will investigate the mobile operator relating to its license in Iran.

“At least by settling out of court, information would stop getting out from Turkcell’s side,” the analyst said.

MTN could not be reached for comment.

On 3 July, MTN said it filed a motion to have dismissed the case filed against it by Turkcell in a U.S. court.

Turkcell must respond to MTN’s motion to dismiss by 1 August 2012, and MTN said it will reply to the Turkcell response by 15 August 2012.

The court’s decision is expected later this year.

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Turkcell and MTN to settle out of court?