Econet Wireless, Airtel know fate on 5% equity dispute October 4
By Prince Osuagwu
A Lagos High Court, Monday, adjourned the case between Barti Airtel and Econet Wireless Nigeria till October, 4, 2012. Justice Adefope-Okorie after hearing all the parties on the propriety or otherwise of setting aside an earlier ruling on the case, asked the parties to go home and prepare for another hearing and apparently a verdict on October 4th.
The adjournment has pushed expectant ICT stakeholders who had waited to know the outcome of the case four months further.
It could be recalled that a Federal High Court, had on January 24, 2012 ruled that Econet Wireless Limited, an international company, domiciled in the United Kingdom, remained a shareholder of Bharti Airtel Nigeria Limited and holds five per cent of the issued shares of the company.
The ruling had as a matter of urgency, ordered for the immediate re-instatement and reissue of the five per cent equity interest to EWL.
According The judgment by Honorable Justice Shuaib, in the suit No FHC/KD/39/2008 (Formerly FHC/L/172/2004) between Econet Wireless (EWL) Limited vs Bharti Airtel Nigeria, summarized that Econet Wireless Limited, an international company, domiciled in the United Kingdom, is a shareholder of Bharti Airtel Nigeria Limited and holds five per cent of the issued shares of the company; and Airtel Limited should therefore to reinstate the shareholding of EWL.
The court further declared all actions, and resolutions, including the decisions to sell shares, issue shares, and also transfer shares to third parties taken by the company, since October 2003, at which EWL was entitled to be notified, and to participate in, as a shareholder, but was prohibited, are null and void.
The court also ordered that the name change from Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited, effected in 2003, was irregular, and must be reversed forthwith, while the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), must cancel any certificate previously issued for the change of the name of the company and restore the name of the company to Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited.
However, in a swift reaction, Airtel Networks Limited had filed an appeal against the ruling which ordered it to restore the interest of Econet Wireless Limited in the company, saying that in the light of the judgment by the Federal High Court of Nigeria regarding Econet Wireless Limited’s (EWL) claim to the ownership of five per cent equity in Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel Nigeria), it abides by and has full confidence in the law of the land, and believes the Appeal Court will determine the appeal on its merits.
It also advised its customers to keep faith, adding that “in addition, the judgment will have no impact on the equity holding of other shareholders in Airtel Nigeria. We wish to assure our customers, employees and business partners that the ruling will in no way affect operations or the company’s ability to fulfill obligations to its stakeholders.”
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