Nigeria: Court Halts Sale of 9Mobile, Shareholders Led By Mangal Demand $43.3M Refund

20 April 2018

Telecoms

Abuja — Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Wednesday stopped the planned sale of 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) following the opposition to the transaction raised by some aggrieved shareholders of the company.

Justice Nyako gave the order stopping the sale while ruling on an ex parte motion brought by the shareholders.

One of the companies said to be a shareholder in 9mobile and is a plaintiff in the suit, is owned by Katsina businessman, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal.

The order by the court will put a spanner in the bid by Teleology, which emerged preferred bidder in the sale process for 9mobile.

Teleology last month paid a $50 million non-refundable deposit for 9mobile and was given 90 days to pay the balance of $450 million to conclude its acquisition of the telecoms firm.

But Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited, who claimed to be "major investors" in Etisalat Nigeria, which was renamed 9mobile after the company's Abu Dhabi-based investors - Etisalat Group - exited the Nigerian telco last year, complained of being left out in the firm's decision making and are demanding a refund of their investment in 9mobile to the tune of $43,330,950.

The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/288/2018 has Karlington Telecommunications Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as defendants.

Ruling on the ex parte moved by plaintiffs' lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), the court held that "an order is made for the maintenance of status quo as at today".

Justice Nyako, however, added that the defendants ought to be heard and consequently ordered the service of processes on the defendants, including the 3rd and 5th (First Bank and 9mobile/Etisalat), whose addresses are outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The court in addition ordered that "the writ be marked as concurrent" and adjourned to May 14 for mention.

In a statement of claims, the plaintiffs said that they bought shares in Etisalat from the 1st and 2nd defendants (Karlington Ltd and Premium Holdings) through a private placement memorandum in which the 3rd defendant (First Bank) served as the custodian of the plaintiffs' share certificates.

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