Nigeria High Court dismisses Airtel plea on Econet Wireless case

Telecom Lead Africa: The Federal High Court of Nigeria has dismissed
mobile operator Bharti Airtel’s application for a stay preventing the
implementation of an earlier decision made by the Court in favor 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 Court ruled that Econet
Wireless is the beneficial owner of a 5 per cent shareholding in Econet Wireless
Nigeria (EWNL) and its share certificates must be re-issued.

The court said 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 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.

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