Bharti Airtel to appeal against Nigerian court's Econet order

Bharti-AirtelNew Delhi, Feb 20 : Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel is not satisfied with the Feb 14 judgment of the Lagos Court of Appeal and will lodge an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a company statement said here Thursday.

The ruling of the court means Bharti Airtel will now have to pay up $3 billion to the African telecom operator Econet Wireless. The court has said Econet was a bonafide stakeholder in Airtel Nigeria.

Bharti Airtel Limited owns 79.06 percent in Airtel Networks Nigeria. The case started in 2006 when Celtel International bought 65 percent in Nigerian telecom company VMobile. Vmobile was then acquired by Zain, from which Bharti bought its African operations in 2011 for $11 billion.

Econet claims that it owns 5 percent of VMobile and in turn has the first right of refusal in the stake sale in the Nigerian telecom company.

The statement said: “As regards the quantum of the claim, as mentioned in some media reports, we would like to unequivocally state that neither of these orders of the Court of Appeals in Lagos and in Kaduna deal with the quantum of damages and no such quantum has been determined.”

Bharti Airtel assured its customers, employees and business partners that these judgments will in no way affect operations of Airtel Nigeria.

Airtel Nigeria has already launched an appeal before the Supreme Court of Nigeria against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna in the matter relating to Econet's claim for 5 percent shares in Airtel Nigeria. “These shares in any case are held in an escrow account and do not affect Bharti Airtel's 79.06 percent in Airtel Nigeria,” it said.(IANS)