MTN on Tuesday asked a US court to dismiss a $4,2bn suit brought by rival Turkcell after alleged underhand tactics to obtain an Iranian mobile licence.

MTN said the suit by Istanbul-based Turkcell had no legal merit and the US court did not have jurisdiction.

"MTN and MTN International both lack sufficient contact with the US to be subject to the jurisdiction of the US court," it said in a statement. "MTN therefore remains confident that the claim will be dismissed."

Africa's largest mobile operator said Turkcell was expected to respond to its motion to dismiss on August 1 and it would then give a response by August 15.

The court's decision was expected later this year, MTN said.

Turkcell, based in Istanbul, is suing MTN in the US for $4,2bn, alleging that MTN bribed Iranian government officials and promised Iran weapons and votes at the United Nations in exchange for a service licence in Iran.

Turkey's largest mobile phone company said it had been awarded the licence initially, which was given to MTN in 2005. Chris Kilowan, former manager of MTN's Irancell joint venture, has claimed he paid a $200000 bribe to SA's former ambassador to Iran, Yusuf "Jojo" Saloojee, for his assistance in acquiring the licence.

Former MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko has repeatedly said that during his tenure no bribes were approved or paid with "my consent or of the MTN Group".

With Thabiso Mochiko

Reuters