MTN Group had taken control of a 49 percent stake in Irancell, Iran's second cellphone firm, replacing Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri, Africa's largest cellphone operator said yesterday. MTN did not say how much it paid.

Iran's ministry of communications and technology was in the process of issuing a licence for Irancell, MTN said in a statement to the JSE.

Iran originally picked Turkey's Turkcell over MTN in bidding for Irancell. Then, in June, it broke off talks with Turkcell in favour of MTN.

MTN yesterday also paid the Iranian government e300 million (R2.3 billion) for a licence fee. MTN, which owns Nigeria's biggest cellphone firm, has about $2.6 billion (R17 billion) available for expansions.

- Bloomberg