The transaction will make MTN one of the world’s largest emerging markets telecoms operators, with GSM networks in 21 countries and a total of about 28 million subscribers. MTN, which has 23 million subscribers in Africa, recently entered the Middle East through its participation in Irancell, the company awarded Iran’s second GSM licence. The operator is also expected to bid for the new mobile licence out to tender in Egypt.

Investcom has a subscriber base of 4.9 million and operations in Syria, Yemen and Africa. It was also recently awarded a GSM licence in Afghanistan. Coinciding with the MTN announcement, Investcom said it was withdrawing from the bidding for US-listed Millicom International Cellular: it was competing against China Mobile for the estimated $5,000 million deal.

Citigroup has acted as financial adviser to Investcom on the MTN transaction.