South African mobile operator MTN has paid $3.6 billion in cash to the shareholders of Investcom in one of the biggest payments made by a South African company for foreign assets said the group on Monday.

The cash and shares deal, which transfers Beirut-based Investcom assets to MTN, was agreed to by 99.5 percent of the acquiring company’s shareholders.

MTN will list 183.2 million shares in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Tuesday to cover the rest of the non-cash payments to Investcom shareholders.

The total amount agreed upon is $5.53 billion.

This represents one of the largest ever payments by a South African company for international assets and indicates the MTN Group's confidence in the future of telecommunications in emerging markets, MTN said in a statement.

The acquisition by MTN will make the group the second-largest cell phone operator in Africa and the Middle East and allowing them to have easier access into high-growth markets.

The statement confirmed the integration between the two companies had begun.

MTN is one of Africa’s fastest growing telecommunications networks, with branches set up in South Africa, Uganda, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Swaziland.

MTN bought a 49 percent stake in Iran’s second largest mobile company Iran Cell last year in October, making this the first time MTN expanded outside of Africa.