Monday, January 31, 2005

Turkish telecom threatens to scrap contract with Iran

Turkish telecom threatens to scrap contract with Iran: "Turkish telecom threatens to scrap contract with Iran
AFP: 1/31/2005
TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - The Turkish telecom company, Turkcell, has threatened to scrap a deal with Tehran after a commission in Iran's hardline-controlled parliament cut the firm's stake from 70 percent to 49 percent, the official news agency IRNA reported on Monday.

"If the commission's decision is finally adopted by the parliament, Turkcell has no choice but to drop the deal." IRNA quoted a Turkcell representative, Hakan Toygar, as saying.

The commission decided on Sunday that the Turkish company's stake should be 49 percent and the Iranian stake 51 percent. The original deal gave the Iranians a minority 30 percent.

Turkcell was awarded the contract in a tender in February 2004 to become -- under the name Irancell -- Iran's second mobile phone operator. The deal is conditional on the payment of a 300-million-euro (366-million-dollar) licence fee.

Iran's government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said on Monday that Tehran had suffered losses of about 5,000 billion rials (560 million dollars) because of the parliament's delay in ratifying the Turkcell bill.

Hardliners have argued that having a telephone network run by a foreign company was contrary to national security, and could facilitate phone tapping or suspension of the service.

Deputies voted in September 2004, to give themselves the power to revise the contract. Their bill also targeted a 200-million-dollar contract with Tepe-Akfen-Vie (TAV) -- a Turkish-Austrian consortium -- for construction and operations at Imam Khomeini International Airport, a new airport to serve Tehran.

The moves have badly hit relations with Turkey, and the reformist government has accused deputies of being bad for foreign investment.

In Istanbul, Turkcell said in a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange that a reduction of its share in the partnership would cause problems with respect to Irancell's administration and control as well its financial consolidation with Turkcell.

"The changes which have not yet become official are different to the license agreement approved by Turkcell and signed by Irancell as well as agreements concluded by Irancell's current partners," the statement read.

If the Iranian parliament approves the planned changes, "the realisation of the project would become risky", it added."


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