Russia's MegaFon mulls €3bn Iranian venture

MegaFon, Russia's third largest cellular operator, has said it is prepared to build a GSM network costing €3 billion in Iran if it obtains a cellular licence. The company, which has only just opened an office in Tehran, said that it was considering a long-term investment in the Iranian market which already has two established operators--Iran Telecommunication and South African-based MTN.

According to MegaFon's director general, Sergei Soldatenkov, if the company is granted a licence, then MegaFon International is ready to invest. "We consider the Iranian market sufficiently attractive for the development of mobile communications. Iran is ahead of Russia in terms of population growth, while its economy is sufficiently stable."

MegaFon itself has been the subject of interest this week with Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov acquiring a near 40 per cent holding in the company, which is part owned by TeliaSonera (rumoured to be in France Telecom's sights) and the private equity vehicle Alfa Group.

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