Nigerian Federal High Court dismisses Airtel application against Econet

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A press release just sent out on behalf of Econet announced the dismissal by the Federal High Court of Nigeria Bharti Airtel’s application to prevent, pending an appeal, the implementation of a judgement in favour of Econet handed down in January this year. The judgement in question generally requires Airtel to reinstate the shareholding of Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited (EWL), the reversal of all decisions made that Econet didn’t participate in since the dispute began back in 2003 and the restoration of the EWL name (the company is called Bharti Airtel now).

There’s no statement from Econet or Bharti Airtel on today’s development but we imagine something will be released tomorrow.

Here’s the full text of the release:

At a court hearing held today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria the Honorable Justice Shuaibu dismissed Bharti Airtel’s application for a stay preventing the implementation of an earlier decision made by the Court in favour of Econet Wireless. Bharti sought the stay to prevent Econet Wireless from enforcing its rights pending Bharti’s appeal of a landmark ruling handed down in January 2012. In the earlier judgment, the Honorable Court ruled that:

– Econet Wireless is the beneficial owner of a 5 per cent shareholding in Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited (“EWNL”) and its share certificates must be re-issued

– As a shareholder, Econet Wireless had a right to participate in all decisions which required shareholder approval and consequently all ‘resolutions passed’ since October 2003 by shareholder agreement in which Econet was not invited to participate are null and void and must be reversed.

– The change to the name of the Company to Bharti Airtel Nigeria was irregular, null and void and must be reversed to rename the Company EWNL.

Econet Wireless will seek to implement the ruling without delay and to continue its work to ensure its rights under the law are upheld.

In a separate dispute relating to the Nigerian company, the High Court in Lagos has set the date of 4 June to hear another injunction application by Bharti Airtel which has been filed and seeks to prevent an international arbitral process from assessing the amount of equitable compensation and damages due to Econet Wireless. This Arbitral Process, established under UNCITRAL, has determined that Econet Wireless was prevented from exercising its right of pre-emption when 65 per cent of the shares in Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited were sold to Zain which was subsequently acquired by Bharti. In its submission to the Lagos High Court, Econet Wireless has said that it will be submitting a claim to the Tribunal for equitable compensation and damages of $3.1 billion.

- Ends -

image via in.reuters.com



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