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MegaFon backs away from Iran cellular bid

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Thu, 13 Aug 2009  (Press TV) Cellular giant MegaFon has denied reports that it will become the third mobile operator to begin business in Iran. 
Last week, Iranian and Russian reports suggested that the Russian firm, which is struggling due to the global financial meltdown, had been given a license to open a branch in Tehran. 
After negotiations with Iranian officials, MegaFon will begin operations in Iran, Iranian news website Tabnak reported on Friday. 
"MegaFon does not plan to enter the market of Iran," MegaFon Public Relations Director Peter Lidov said, however, on Thursday. 
"We monitor opportunities to enter promising markets outside Russia but Iran is not among them," he said in a statement posted on the company's website. 
This comes as the third largest mobile telecom operator in Russia had earlier indicated readiness to invest 4.65 billion US dollars in the construction of a network in Iran. 
"We consider the Iranian market sufficiently attractive for the development of mobile communications," Sergei Soldatenkov, the company's general director, had said in mid-May. 
"Iran is ahead of Russia in terms of population growth, while its economy is sufficiently stable," he added. 
The new statement from Megafon indicates that "having reviewed the tender terms and other factors related to conducting business in Iran, the company refused to participate in the tender, and stopped its work on the project to enter Iranian market." 
There are currently two mobile service providers in Iran, the state-controlled Iran Telecommunication Company and MTN Group -- sub-Saharan Africa's most prominent cell phone operator. 
For the seventh successive quarter, MTN subsidiary Irancell topped the market in quarterly growth. 
Its growth rate of rate of 102.2% is considered one of the strongest showings recorded by any mobile operator in the world in recent years.

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