MTN Group has noted that a tribunal of independent arbitrators has ruled against Turkish mobile operator Turkcell, in the investor-state arbitration under a bilateral investment treaty case held in terms of the rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
In an arbitral award rendered on 15 October 2014, the tribunal held that it had no jurisdiction to hear claims worth US$600 million brought by Turkcell under the Turkey-Iran bilateral investment treaty, on the basis that no qualifying “investment” was made within the meaning of the treaty.
This week’s failed litigation is the latest in a series of unsuccessful claims that Turkcell has brought in respect of the award of the Iranian licence.
In 2005, the same company brought an action in an Iranian court for an injunction to prevent the granting of the licence to Irancell, and it sought damages. This claim was dismissed. Turkcell also commenced an ICC arbitration against its former Iranian partners in 2008, which was dismissed on 17 April 2012. In May 2013, Turkcell dropped its lawsuit against MTN before the US District Court of Columbia.
The lawsuit was re-filed in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in November 2013. MTN will continue to defend its rights in any jurisdiction wherever the lawsuit is filed. Turkcell’s claim for damages regarding the awarding of the second GSM licence in Iran has no legal merit and MTN will accordingly continue to vigorously oppose it.
MTN did not cause Turkcell to lose its Iran licence bid, as claimed by Turkcell. The Turkcell consortium was never awarded the licence in Iran. For more background on the case, click here.