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Press Statement BREAKING NEWS: 29 OCTOBER 2012 - LAGOS HIGH COURT REJECTS BHARTI APPEAL IN WRITTEN JUDGEMENT

 

29 October 2012 LAGOS HIGH COURT REJECTS BHARTI APPEAL IN WRITTEN JUDGEMENT


KEY FACTS

  • The High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, dismisses Bharti Airtel's appeal to set aside an award made by an international commercial arbitration tribunal in favour of Econet Wireless
  • The judgement paves the way for the matter to be referred back to the international tribunal to set the quantum of damages and compensation that Bharti must pay Econet Wireless
  • In Court papers, Econet said that it is submitting a claim valued in excess of $3bn
  • In the extensive judgement, the Lagos High Court found that the international Tribunal had been correctly constituted, had jurisdiction and had acted correctly on all accounts.

PDFTo see full PDF - Click here - Judgement of the High Court on the arbitral appeal


 

  PRESS STATEMENT: 4 OCTOBER 2012 - LAGOS HIGH COURT REJECTS BHARTI APPLICATION TO SET ASIDE TRIBUNAL AWARD

 

04 October 2012 LAGOS HIGH COURT REJECTS BHARTI APPLICATION TO SET ASIDE TRIBUNAL AWARD


LAGOS HIGH COURT REJECTS BHARTI APPLICATION TO SET ASIDE TRIBUNAL AWARD.

Nigeria – 4 October 2012: The High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, today dismissed an application by Bharti Airtel to set aside an award made by an international commercial arbitration tribunal in favour of Econet Wireless. The judgement paves the way for the matter to be referred back to the international tribunal to set the quantum of damages and compensation that Bharti must pay to Econet Wireless. In Court papers, Econet said that it is submitting a claim valued in excess of $3bn.

The international tribunal (comprising senior Nigerian and English lawyers) found multiple breaches of a shareholders’ agreement by both the selling shareholders and Celtel Nigeria, now Bharti Airtel Nigeria, ordering them to pay damages/equitable compensation to Econet (in an amount to be determined in a further round of the arbitration).  The ruling said that the purchase of a 65% shareholding in Nigeria's second largest cell phone company, by Celtel, was violated the pre-emption rights of existing shareholder, Econet Wireless. Celtel’s parent company, Zain of Kuwait later sold the controlling stake to Bharti Airtel, the Indian telecoms operator. The international tribunal’s award was handed down in December last year.

In an extensive judgment, the Lagos High Court found that the International Tribunal had been correctly constituted, had jurisdiction and had acted correctly on all accounts.


 

 

  MEDIA UPDATE: 10 SEPTEMBER 2012 - ZIMBABWEAN-BORN BUSINESSMAN COMMITS $6.4 MILLION TO SEND AFRICAN STUDENTS TO MOREHOUSE COLLEGE

 

Zimbabwean-born businessman commits $6.4 million to send African students to Morehouse College


Zimbabwean-born businessman commits $6.4 million to send African students to Morehouse College

Strive Masiyiwa addresses panel at 2010 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit - Day 2 at the Metropolitan Club on September 23, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Louise Blouin Group)

ATLANTA – For 17-year-old Abel Gumbo, things couldn't be better. Only a few months ago he was among more than a thousand students at a high school in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Today he is rubbing shoulders with future leaders at Atlanta's Morehouse College.

Gumbo is one of 10 students from Africa who have been awarded full ride scholarships to Morehouse, beginning this fall. Everything is being paid for by billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe's richest man, according to the 2011 Forbes list.

The telecom tycoon has committed $6.4 million in scholarship dollars to send 40 African freshmen to Morehouse over a four-year period. This year's intake comprises of two teenagers from Burundi and eight from Zimbabwe.

"It's been an experience," said Gumbo, who is studying for an undergraduate computer science degree. "I have left everything behind to gain an education in America. Computer science is technologically more advanced in the States and I am learning a lot about people from different cultures."

"All international students are housed in the W.E.B. Du Bois International House, where they are placed with a domestic roommate," said Gwen Wade, Director of International Student Services and Study Abroad Programs at Morehouse College.

"This helps them to transition to life in the U.S., and the cross-cultural communication enables international students to become more involved and aware of U.S. customs, such as food, music and dress."

"My life has been transformed," said Prince Abudu, 17, from Zimbabwe, who is also studying computer science.

"Morehouse has taught me the spirit of brotherhood and to strive for success."
The 10 students, who arrived in Atlanta in last month, are the first class of the newly-established Ambassador Andrew Young International Scholars program. The international scholarships were set up by Capernaum Trust, the education arm of Masiyiwa's Higher Life Foundation.

Higher Life advertised for students throughout Zimbabwe, Burundi and South Africa to fill the highly competitive 10 scholarship slots. More than 500 of the brightest students from across the region applied.
A team from Morehouse flew to Zimbabwe to interview 20 finalists in June. Ten were selected and the others received scholarships to a South African university. The winners were chosen on the basis of their high SAT scores, grueling face-to-face interviews and a written essay.

Indeed, Masiyiwa has high hopes for the recipients of the scholarship. His vision is to develop young talent to become future leaders who will return to work in their native countries.

"My dream is to become an ethical leader," said Abudu. "I want to be a morally conscious person, who can develop my country through entrepreneurship and business."
Both boys are from modest backgrounds. Gumbo became an orphan at 10 years old and Abudu is from a single parent household, where his mother struggles to keep the family afloat since his father died in 2004. What makes them stand out is they are driven and academically talented.

"He himself [Strive Masiyiwa] from a very early age, when he was still in Zimbabwe, had heard about Morehouse College and had always wanted to come here," said Petronella Maramba, executive director of Zimbabwe's Capernaum Trust, in a recent televised interview with CNN.

"So when the opportunity was afforded to establish a relationship with Morehouse College to further a vision that he's always had. To develop, young, bright, orphaned children in Africa. To help them develop into leaders who are able, after having obtained a good education in the United States of America, to go back to Africa and give back to the community and develop it further than what's already been done in the past," she added.

In fact, Morehouse is on a mission to become a truly global university. This year 26 international students made Morehouse their home, compared with 9 during the last academic school year.
Twenty-two are from Africa, which includes the ten students from Higher Life scholarship program, and three from the Caribbean — two from the Bahamas and one from Jamaica

"The 26 international students of the 2012 freshman class represent the largest incoming international class in the history of Morehouse College," said Wade.

"We are extremely excited to afford our students, both foreign and domestic, with the opportunity to meet, share, interact and foster relationships with each other for a mutually rewarding experience. This allows all students to better understand and appreciate both our culture, as well as others."

Article from www.grio.com

 

  PRESS STATEMENT: 5 June 2012 - Bharti seeks to block International Tribunal from quantifying compensation and damages owed to Econet

 

5 June 2012 Bharti seeks to block International Tribunal from quantifying compensation and damages owed to Econet

 

Bharti seeks to block International Tribunal from quantifying compensation and damages owed to Econet.

The Lagos High Court yesterday heard an application by Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecommunications group, and others seeking to prevent an International Arbitration Tribunal from making its final assessment of the quantum of damages and equitable compensation that they must pay to Econet Wireless for the violation of its shareholder rights.

In December last year an International Tribunal, set up under the auspices of the United Nations Commision for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and comprising senior lawyers from Nigeria and England, found that there had been multiple breaches of the shareholders agreement when Celtel Nigeria, now Bharti Airtel, had acquired control of 65% of the shares in the Company and ordered them to pay damages and equitable compensation to Econet. The amount due to Econet will be set in the final stage of the Arbitral process which Bharti is now seeking to prevent taking place.

The hearing of the Bharti application started in April, and yesterday, 4th June, was the first day of the substantive case, when legal representatives of both parties presented their arguments to the Court. The Judge concluded yesterday's hearing by adjourning the proceedings until 4th October for the handing down of her decision.

In its written submission to the Court, Econet Wireless said that its experts believe the quantum of the equitable compensation and damages amounts to more than US$3bn.



  MEDIA UPDATE: 24 MAY 2012 - MOREHOUSE COLLEGE HONOURS AFRICAN BUSINESSMAN FOR HUMANITARIAN WORK

 

24 May 2012 MOREHOUSE COLLEGE HONOURS AFRICAN BUSINESSMAN FOR HUMANITARIAN WORK

MOREHOUSE COLLEGE HONOURS AFRICAN BUSINESSMAN FOR HUMANITARIAN WORK

One of the most respected Universities in America, Morehouse College where the late civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jnr was educated has honoured Zimbabwean born businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa with an honorary doctorate for his humanitarian work and philanthropy. 

Mr Masiyiwa who founded Econet Wireless, a global telecommunications company with interests and operations on four continents, is considered one of the most successful African business men and has earned international acclaim for his 'zero tolerance' to corrupt business practices.

As a philanthropist Mr Masiyiwa has invested most of his personal wealth in providing educational support to hundreds of thousands of orphans. At any given time more than 40 000 orphans in Africa are on educational support. He has also provided health care facilities, and also sends some of the brightest young Africans to universities and colleges around the world, including more than 30 currently studying in the United States.

As a humanitarian, Mr Masiyiwa is recognised the world over for his work with organisations like the Rockefeller Foundation, where he is a trustee; the Humanitarian Prize where he is a juror; the Holocaust Museum in Washington, where he sits on its global genocide watch committee; the Carbon War Room which he started with Richard Branson; the global eHealth programme which he helped found with South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Morehouse  

His work in promoting the interests of small holder farmers in Africa was recently recognised by President Obama, when he invited him to join a meeting at Camp David with G-8 leaders, the first time private business man from Africa have been invited to sit in with the G-8 leaders, to discuss an issue of global concern.

In a statement, Mr Masiyiwa said that he was honoured and humbled to have been given such a prestigious recognition. “When I first learned to read as a child, I learnt of this man called Martin Luther King, and I discovered then, that he was a Morehouse man, and I always wanted to come here."

 

Morehouse College



 
 
   
  "His work in promoting the interests of small holder farmers in Africa was recently recognised by President Obama, when he invited him to join a meeting at Camp David with G-8 leaders, the first time private business man from Africa have been invited to sit in with the G-8 leaders, to discuss an issue of global concern."



  MEDIA UPDATE: PRESS STATEMENT 23 MAY 2012 -LONDON - EWG HAS CONCLUDED A $362M LOAN FACILITY

23 MAY 2012 LONDON - ECONET WIRELESS GROUP HAS CONCLUDED A $362M LOAN FACILITY

London - Econet Wireless Group (EWG) has concluded a $362m loan facility to use in some of its African operations.

The facility was arranged by AfriEximbank, and syndicated to development and financial institutions from Germany ( Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG), France (Societe De Promotion Et De Participation Pour La Cooperation Economique (PROPARCO) , China (China Development Bank Corporation(CDB), the Netherlands (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), South Africa ( Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), and Sweden ( Exportkreditnämnden (EKN).

It was signed in London at a special ceremony on May 23 2012, attended by representatives from all the financial institutions. Strive Masiyiwa, the Econet Wireless founder, signed on behalf of his group.

A significant amount of the facility - $307 million - has been earmarked towards, its Zimbabwean subsidiary, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe( EWZ), which is listed on the local exchange.

In a statement, Douglas Mboweni, CEO of the Zimbabwe business, said $255m from the $307m would re-finance existing short-term facilities, whilst $52m will finance equipment purchases for further expansion. He said the tenor of the facilities was an average of 5 years and the blended rate was LIBOR plus 5,3%.

Mr Mboweni noted that borrowing for its expansion projects remained possible only through its parent company.

  PRESS STATEMENT 7 MAY 2012 -FEDERAL HIGH COURT DISMISSED BHARTI'S APPLICATION FOR A STAY

7MAY FEDERAL HIGH COURT DISMISSED BHARTI'S APPLICATION FOR A STAY

 

FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA DISMISSED BHARTI'S APPLICATION FOR A STAY


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.
  Ruling on interim relief pending Appeal - PDF file 881kb

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.

 

Bharti files further application before the Nigerian Court of Appeal, against the decision of the Honorable Justice Shuaibu of the Federal High Court of Nigeria -  10 May 2012 - PDF 227kb

 


 

 
  MEDIA UPDATE: Bharti Injunction hearing 28th February 2012, Lagos High Court Nigeria

"Bharti's application for injunction to restrain EWL and other Respondents from proceeding with the hearing on the assessment of damages in the pending arbitration, came up for hearing today before a Lagos High Court. Bharti's counsel however abandoned the said application for injunction and instead opted that the substantive application to set aside the partial award be heard. In view of this, the court ordered accelerated hearing of the application to set aside the award and adjourned same till the 25th of April 2012."






  Econet Wireless is seeking at least $3.1 billion in damages from Bharti Airtel in a dispute over ownership of its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria, according to a suit filed on Wednesday.
  reuters 2012
 

"The move follows a Nigerian court ruling on Jan. 30 that Bharti Airtel's ownership of its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria is "null and void" because co-founder and 5 percent shareholder Econet was not consulted on the transfer.

South Africa-based Econet Wireless is disputing the Indian company's ownership of one of its top Africa operations. Bharti said last month that its stake in its Nigerian unit was "completely safe" and that the world's fifth-biggest mobile phone carrier by subscribers had appealed against the verdict.

"The claim for damages and equitable compensation against the Applicant and some of the Respondents might be in excess of $3 Billion," the document filed to the court said. "The above estimated damages might also be in addition to a claim for $100 Million received by the Applicant as fees for the management of VNL (Vee Networks Limited, a former name of Airtel) for a period of 6 years which sum should have accrued."

Bharti Airtel inherited the legal case as part of a $9 billion acquisition of Zain's Africa operations in 2010, including 65 percent of Zain Nigeria. The basis of Econet's claim is that its 5 percent stake was unfairly cancelled when Zain took control, so any decision made since then without it, including the transfer to Bharti, is void. The Nigerian court upheld that claim.

Nigeria contributes about 9.5 percent to Bharti's consolidated operational profits, the company says.Econet disputed the buyout of Airtel's stake from Zain Nigeria in 2010 because its right of first refusal over the stake was denied, in a dispute that had been ongoing since 2003, when the same assets were first sold to Vee Networks." (Reuters 22 February 2012)





 

MEDIA UPDATE: LATEST COURT DEVELOPMENTS - 22 FEBRUARY 2012

 

On 21st February, Econet Wireless filed its opposing papers to an injunction to stop the arbitration process,over the ownership of 65%, filed on 13th February 2012 by Bharti Airtel, in the Lagos High Court.

The matter has been set down for hearing on 28th February 2012. A copy of the papers, of both parties, can be obtained from the Lagos High Court or by clicking the link below:

Counter Affadavit - FBD comments - Click Here to download (PDF 309kb)

Address on Injunction - Click here to download (PDF 396kb)

Meanwhile, Econet Wireless would also like to advise that with respect to the other application for an injunction by Bharti, in the matter of the 5%, shareholding, which was awarded in favour of Econet Wireless, by the Federal High of Nigeria. The matter came up for hearing today, 22nd February 2012, in Kaduna Federal High Court. The judge postponed the matter to 13th March, on request of applicant, (Bharti Airtel).



 
Statement

     

 
International Tribunal awards damages to Econet in claim over 65% stake in Bharti Nigeria
 



Econet Wireless Limited (“EWL”) has been victorious for a second time in less than a month in long-running legal cases to establish its ownership rights to shares in the Bharti Airtel operator in Nigeria (“Bharti Nigeria”). 


In an up-beat start to the year, EWL has not only won its long-running battle in the Nigerian Federal High Court to confirm its 5% take in Bharti Nigeria, but has also been victorious in an International Arbitration examining the deal by which Celtel Nigeria, now owned by Bharti, seized control of 65% of the Nigerian operator in 2006. 


The International UNCITRAL Tribunal (comprising senior Nigerian and English lawyers) found multiple breaches of a shareholders’ agreement by both the selling shareholders and Celtel Nigeria, ordering them to pay damages/equitable compensation to Econet (in an amount to be determined in a further round of the arbitration). 


In a statement Econet said: “We are naturally pleased that we received very clear findings in our favour in both of these actions.  As SingTel (part-owner of Bharti Airtel) has been forced to acknowledge in its latest Q3 results, both outcomes are clearly “unfavourable rulings” from their perspective – but to Econet they represent a vindication of its long campaign for restoration of its rights in Nigeria, and for compensation for loss of a controlling stake which has since been sold to Bharti for a premium of several billion dollars.”

To view the SingTel Q3 results extract - Click here (97Kb PDF)


Statement
Press Statement 11 February 2012

 

MEDIA UPDATE STATEMENT ON THE RELEASE OF THE WRITTEN TRANSCRIPT OF THE JUDGMENT IN FAVOUR OF ECONET ON THE OWNERSHIP OF THE 5% BHARTI AIRTEL NETWORKS NIGERIA

 

The Federal High Court of Nigeria, on 10th February 2012, released the written transcript of its judgment handed down on 24th January 2012. The transcript is a public document which can be obtained directly from the Federal High Court in Kaduna.

Econet lawyers have transcribed a summary of the key points in the judgment, and a summary is attached to this statement, for ease of reference. The full transcript, as well as this summary are available below:

Full transcript of judgment (1,7Mb PDF)

Summary extract from the judgment of Justice Shuaibu (600Kb PDF)

 

Developments since the ruling:

On 26th January 2012, Airtel Networks Limited (formerly Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited (“Bharti”), filed an Application for Stay of Execution of the said court judgment, made in favor of Econet. In its application, Bharti told the court that, if the judgment is implemented, it would have the following effect:

… that:

5.1       the Judgment, particularly the nullification of the decisions held at the meetings to which the Plaintiff #(Econet) was not invited will adversely affect the operations of the Applicant #(Bharti), and its corporate existence, and may impair its ability to effectively prosecute its appeal against the Judgment;

5.2       If the effect of the Judgment is not suspended pending the determination of the Applicant’s appeal, a number of key corporate actions taken by the Applicant will be unraveled and this will cause the Applicant incalculable financial loss.

A full copy of the above application can be obtained from the Federal High Court in Kaduna or by clicking the link below:

Application for stay of execution (6MbPDF)

Econet filed a Counter Affidavit on 8 February 2012, opposing Bharti’s Application for Stay of Execution. In its Counter Affidavit, Econet claims that the allegations by Bharti on the impact of the said judgment if executed, as referred to in paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2 of Bharti’s application, “are false”, and Econet has submitted a press statement issued by Bharti, on 27 January 2012, in which it stated, as follows:

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

A full copy of the Econet Counter Affidavit can be obtained from the Federal High Court in Kaduna or by clicking the link below:

Econet Counter Affadavit (17Mb PDF)

Notes:

Bharti Airtel acquired the African Assets of Zain of Kuwait at a reported US$10.7bn. The Nigerian business was valued in the transaction at US$4.5bn. This places the value of the Econet’s 5% shareholding at the time at US$225m.

 

# Have been inserted



Statement

9 February 2012


 

BHARTI AIRTEL APPLICATION FOR INJUNCTION AGAINST ECONET WIRELESS

 

On 24th January 2012, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled in favor of Econet Wireless Limited (“Econet”), an international telecommunications group, based in South Africa, in it's dispute with Airtel Networks Limited (“Bharti”), over the ownership of a 5% stake, in Bharti (formerly Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited).

The court ordered that Bharti restore the 5% stake, which was stripped from Econet in 2003, by the board of directors of Bharti. The court also ordered that all resolutions, and decisions taken by Bharti, since November 2003, to date, in which Econet, was excluded as a shareholder, are null and void.

Bharti bought 65% of the company in Nigeria, in 2009, as part of an acquisition of the African businesses of Zain of Kuwait. At the time of the sale Bharti valued, the Nigerian company, which it renamed Airtel Networks Limited, at over US$4,5bn. This would have valued the Econet 5% stake, at over US$220m, at the time.

A written copy of the court's judgment has not yet been released by the Federal High Court. Once this is available, Econet will publish it in full on its website (www Econetwireless.com).

On 26th January 2012, Bharti filed an Application for Stay of Execution in the Federal High Court, requesting the Court to grant it an injunction, and to stop Econet from exercising its rights under the court judgment, until an appeal has been heard, by the Court of Appeals of Nigeria.

The following is an extract from its application, for 'Stay of Execution', as it is called in Nigeria:

            “… that:

5.1       the Judgment, particularly the nullification of the decisions held at the meetings to which the Plaintiff #(Econet) was not invited will adversely affect the operations of the Applicant #(Bharti), and its corporate existence, and may impair its ability to effectively prosecute its appeal against the Judgment;

5.2       If the effect of the Judgment is not suspended pending the determination of the Applicant’s appeal, a number of key corporate actions taken by the Applicant will be unraveled and this will cause the Applicant incalculable financial loss.

A full copy of this application, which is a public court document, is hereby provided: click to download (6.4Mb)

On 8 February 2012 Econet's lawyers in Nigeria, filed an application opposing the Bharti application.
A full copy of this opposing motion, which is a public court document, is hereby provided: Click to download (17Mb)

The Federal High Court has now changed the date of the hearing, on Bharti's application from 16 to 22 February 2012, in Kaduna, Nigeria. It will be in open court, and members of the public and media, are free to attend.

 

# Have been inserted

 


 
Statement


 

 

Further to our statement issued on the morning of 30th January 2012, in which we announced that Econet Wireless was issued a judgment in its favour by the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Econet Wireless would like to offer the following update:


The judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria was issued on the morning of 24th January 2012. The Judge, Hon Schaib, read the ruling out in an open court, in the attendance of lawyers and representatives of the applicant and defendants. All were present as required by the law, having been duly notified in advance that the judge would be handing down judgement in the matter.

No written copy of the judgment was released by the judge, but he promised to have the full written copy, published within two weeks. It is our intention to publish the full copy of the judgement on our website and in the media in order that everyone can see the matters for determination and ascertain for themselves, the prospects of success of any appeal, as the case may be.


Meanwhile, following the judgement, lawyers for the defendant, now Bharti Airtel, immediately rushed to file a 'Notice of Appeal' as well as separately an 'Application for stay of execution, of Execution of The judgement' pending an appeal hearing and determination. This is their prerogative, which we respect.


In the 'Application for a stay', Bharti Airtel, through their lawyers have given a detailed outline of what they consider to be the potential impact of this ruling. This document is a public document and may be obtained from the Nigerian courts. However for ease of reference, Econet Wireless hereby publishes the full document from Bharti Airtel Nigeria, as it was served on our lawyers, on Friday evening, and brought to our attention yesterday. Your attention is drawn most specifically, to the grounds of Bharti's Appeal and what they perceive to be the impact of the judgment. Econet Wireless has also noted the statement, issued by Bharti to the media addressing the same issue.

 

Airtel Motion PDF

Click to open 6.4mb

SEE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PDF

 

 

 
Statement


 

 

On the 24th January 2012, in the Federal High Court of Nigeria, the Honorable Justice Shuaib, handed down judgment in the matter between Econet Wireless Ltd (‘EWL’) vs. Bharti Airtel Nigeria Limited, suit No FHC/KD/39/2008 (Formerly FHC/L/172/2004)
The summary of the judgment is as follows:

  1. Econet Wireless Ltd, an international company, domiciled in the United Kingdom, is a shareholder of Bharti Airtel Nigeria Limited and holds 5% of the issued shares of the company. The court ordered Airtel to reinstate the shareholding of EWL.
  1. The court ordered that all actions, and resolutions 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. This includes decisions to sell shares, issue shares, and also transfer shares to third parties.
  1. The court also ordered that the name change from Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited, effected in 2003, was irregular, and must be reversed forthwith.
  1.     The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), has been ordered to 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.

As a result of the judgment by the Honorable Justice Shuaib, Econet Wireless Limited through its lawyers has now written to the company, with the following requests:

  • Immediately reissue shares in the company to Econet to reinstate its 5% interest.
  • Provide Econet full access to information relating particularly to board decisions and shareholder resolutions in accordance with the Companies Act, the shareholders agreement between the parties and in pursuance of the orders of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

Econet Wireless intends to review the decisions taken by the board and other shareholders to ascertain which actions are in violation of the order of the High Court.

 

 

Commenting on the decision, Econet Wireless Group Chairman - Mr Strive Masiyiwa said:

“It is universally accepted throughout the world, that when shares in a company are allotted and share certificates issued, as confirmation of ownership, this is sacrosanct.

“In October 2003, Econet Wireless Ltd received a letter from the chairman of the company - Mr Oba Otudeko, in which he advised that at a board meeting directors had decided that Econet Wireless was no longer a shareholder, Econet’s share certificate had been cancelled, and Econet’s name removed from the shareholder register. The motive for this unprecedented action was the circumvention of Econet Wireless' rights as a shareholder in order to facilitate the sale of shares, first to Celtel International, and later to Bharti Airtel.

“As a result of these actions, Econet Wireless was left with no option but to seek redress through the courts. An application was filed in the Nigerian Federal High Court in October 2003, more than eight years ago. Since then, every legal avenue to delay the process was pursued by the defendants  through their lawyers, in order to  frustrate Econet Wireless.

“I am very disappointed that whilst it was clear to Celtel, Zain and Bharti-Airtel that Econet Wireless was a shareholder, they still chose to pursue a path, in which the end justified the means. It is clear even to those with the most basic understanding of company law that the board of a company has no power in any jurisdiction to simply cancel the shares of a shareholder but their desire to own the company was so great that they were prepared to overlook the facts and ignore our rights

“The substance of this ruling, which was known by Celtel and then Bharti, was a matter of record in the legal documents of the company. It is also common cause to even the casual reader that the order given has far-reaching consequences on the current ownership status of the company.

We have made it clear to the company, that as a shareholder, we would like to ensure that all actions that must be taken to comply with the court order are undertaken in such a way that there is minimal disruption to the ongoing operations of the company.

“The board of Econet Wireless and I remain willing to sit down with Bharti-Airtel, to review the best way forward for all parties. In the meantime, we have a fiduciary responsibility to take all of the necessary steps to vigorously protect the interests of our shareholders.”

 

SEE GLOBAL PRESS ON THE NIGERIA DISPUTE

SEE AIRTEL MOTION AND TRANSCRIPT

 
Econet Solar to licence operators
 

Econet Solar, the energy division of global telecoms group Econet Wireless, has said it will license its breakthrough solar lighting solution to telecoms operators from around the world.

The company said it has received numerous enquiries from operators all around the world who want to use the patented technology to offer lighting to low income customers.

The Econet Solar, HomePowerStation, was recently launched at the Durban climate conference. It can only be provided through a cell phone network, as it charges for lighting using a software application at the network switching system.

Econet Solar CEO  Marco Signorini, said the first commercial services were expected at the end of February 2012.

He said negotiations with operator partners who will offer the service in their markets had already started.

 "In markets where Econet does not operate a network, we are licensing other operators to offer the service using our solution," he said.


Mr Signorini said enquiries had come from operators as far a field as India and the Caribbean.

"In Africa we expect to have an operator for each market by June," he said.

 

Marco Signorini

               Marco Signorini - CEO Econet Solar
 
 
 
 


ECONET has won recognition by the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ) for the Outstanding Social Responsibility campaign for the year.

“Reaching close to six million subscribers underlines Econet's commercial success, but the company's true strength continues to be the work it does work in the community,” MAZ said. Econet believes its future depends on the sustainable development of its communities. “Our social role is therefore constantly being reviewed in order to remain relevant to our communities,” Econet said. One such example is the work being done through the National Healthcare Trust Zimbabwe, our vehicle for intervention in public healthcare. In April 2008, the Trust began a programme to refurbish public health institutions in rural districts across Zimbabwe.

The programme in April 2011 saw clinics in rural Bindura and Insiza being re-equipped with medicines, equipment, incinerators, boreholes and latrines. During the year, Econet also came up with a comprehensive Environmental and Waste Management Policy, in which renewed emphasis was placed on building partnerships with environmental protection agencies and residence associations. That way, Econet's intervention was targeted and relevant. As a result of this intervention, Econet was awarded a prize by Environment Africa for its work in the protection of the environment. Econet has undertaken several initiatives aimed at making a positive impact on society. To date, Capernaum Trust, through which Econet runs support programmes for orphaned children, has sponsored over 50 000 disadvantaged children to enable them to have access to primary, secondary and tertiary education.

 




 

EXCITEMENT GRIPS ZAMBIA AS FIBRE OPTIC CABLE ARRIVES - September 13, 2011

The landlocked nation of Zambia has become the latest African country to connect to high the high speed undersea cables which began to arrive on the African coast a year ago.

Zambia, which has no access to the sea, has had to wait patiently whilst a cable was laid along the side of the road, connecting the country through South Africa.

The 8000km cable, whose final destination is Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is being built with Chinese government supported funding by Huawei, the Chinese information and communications technology solutions provider. Huawei won the contract from a consortium of regional and international operators, led by Liquid Telecom, itself a subsidiary of pan-African telecoms group Econet Wireless.

The fibre optic cable which began in Durban South Africa, runs all the way along the highway to Johannesburg, then to Beitbridge, on the Zimbabwe-South African border. It then passes through Zimbabwe to Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia.

The Zambian part of the network has already reached the Copperbelt and is expected to reach Lubumbashi in Southern DRC by December. Crossing of the world's second largest natural forest to reach Kinshasa will be done using existing high voltage transmission towers.

For Zambia, it means the country will finally join its neighbours in enjoying cheap high speed Internet access, creating significant opportunities for its people.

A spokesman for Liquid confirmed that the fibre has already reached the Copperbelt.

“We have already completed the civil works between Chirundu, and Lusaka, and also between Lusaka and the Copperbelt. We are now blowing fibre, and we shall light it up before the end of October. Zambia, will then have access to the sea just like Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa,” said the spokesman.

 
 
 

BURUNDI'S ECONET unveils USD 10 million 3G network

Econet Wireless, Burundi’s fastest growing network has launched Burundi’s first broadband service. This follows an investment of over $10 million in the latest 3G technology. The 3G network is linked to the internet and outside world via fibre optic system with satellite back up to ensures reliability.The service will offer customers high speed mobile internet connectivity on mobile phones, lap tops, ipads, tablets, PC’s and other broadband compliant devices. The service will be launched in two phases, the first phase will cover the capital city Bujumbura and the second phase will cover the other key provinces.

At a press conference during the launch, Econet Burundi CEO Mr. Darlington T Mandivenga said Econet Broadband was one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the company since its launch in 2009, adding that broadband would play a pivotal role in the development of Burundi’s economy. Burundi, a small landlocked resource poor country of over 10 million inhabitants has an internet penetration of only 1.5%, one of the lowest in the world.

“Econet as the most innovative operator is proud to launch broadband to grow internet penetration and bring Burundi at par with not only Africa but other developed nations,” said Mr. Mandivenga According to officials at the launch, an increase of 10 mobile phone users per 100-people boosts GDP by 0.6%.

Econet customers are being offered the services in three packages. Econet is offering solutions for mobile, home and office internet use. The “On The Go” package will be offered for customers on the move using data-capable mobile phones. In preparation for the launch, Econet has already stocked its shops with a wide range of smart phones, which have the capability to send and receive e-mails and make video calls. With “On The Go”, Econet customers can also access the internet on their laptops from anywhere with 3G coverage, Econet Broadband’s home solution, “@HOME, offers internet access at home, allowing users to use the web for business, school and leisure. For the business user, Econet offers a high powered package known as “@WORK”.

Mr. Mandivenga added; “the possibilities are endless, Econet will work with government on e-government projects, e-health projects and other projects to transform the way we do business. Econet today is bridging the digital divide between Burundi and the world.”

“We have essentially connected Burundi to the global digital economy and from now on, Burundi is part of the knowledge society and part of the borderless world of Facebook, of YouTube, of Twitter, of Skype, of e-commerce, e-payments, e-TV, video calling - of the world”. According to information obtained from Econet, broadband users will be accessing the internet from as low as 53-BIF per MB. In addition to affordability, Mr. Mandivenga assured the Econet Broadband users of high speeds, high mobility and high reliability of the service. Officials promised that their service is better than any internet service currently available on the market.

Econet, the fourth licensed operator in Burundi is currently second largest but fastest growing telecommunications company a subscriber base of over 600,000 subscribers and extensive coverage in all provinces. The company has already invested over US$60 million on its existing network. The largets is Orascom owned Ucom with about 1 million subscribers. The others are the state owned Onamob, Africell, owned by VTL Holdings (going by the trade name Tempo) and Lacel SU.

 

 
 
 
 

Econet launches SMS campaign for Somalia aid

ECONET Wireless has launched a campaign that enables its customers to send desperately needed aid relief to famine-stricken Somalia via SMS. The “Save a Life” SMS campaign will raise funding to support an international aid effort in Somalia, where a combination of the worst drought in 60 years and armed conflict has left an estimated 3.7 million people in desperate need of food aid. Econet customers will be able to donate to the cause by sending the SMS “Save a Life” to the number 32225. The money raised from the text messages would go directly to UNICEF, which is involved in coordinating the international aid effort in Somalia. “Econet Wireless is a global brand, and one founded in Faith. We are gravely concerned by this African tragedy, as are our customers. This SMS platform allows us to jointly respond to this crisis as best as we can,” Econet said in a statement. Econet has pledged to match the amount raised by its customers, and also announced an additional donation of US$250,000 to the aid effort. “It is our hope that this donation will trigger a wave of support from individuals, corporates and other relief organizations, into providing the much needed aid to the people of Somalia,” Econet said.

The drought threatens up to 12 million people across the Horn of Africa, but conflict in southern Somalia has increased the urgency in the region. According to latest United Nations reports, about US$1.6 billion is required in direct aid, with US$300 million of it required in the next month to allow aid groups to mount an adequate response to the famine.

 

 
 
 


Econet launches mobile money transfer service

ECONET Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms company, has launched the country’s first true mobile money transfer service. The new service, branded EcoCash, will allow users to send and receive money, buy airtime, and make other payments using their mobile phones. Unlike other mobile banking offerings that have emerged on the market, customers using EcoCash are not required to have a bank account, do not need to switch their SIM cards for new ones, and can move money across different mobile networks.

Econet Wireless CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni said the arrival of EcoCash means that the millions of Zimbabweans without access to traditional banking services will now have the ability to send and receive money, without first having to travel to the nearest bank.“You will not find a bank at every corner of the country, but, thanks to the extensive coverage we have built over recent years, mobile phone access has spread to virtually every corner of the country,” Mr Mboweni said. “Sending and receiving cash will now no longer take days, it can now be achieved virtually instantly.” Buying airtime for loved ones will also now be more convenient and faster with EcoCash.

Econet has engaged over 500 EcoCash agents countrywide, providing employment to small businesses in some of the country’s most remote areas. Post Offices have also been registered as agents and discussions are on-going with the major retail chains. Mobile money transfer services have significantly stimulated economic activity in other African markets, especially in East Africa. In 2010 alone, some 14 million Kenyans transferred US$7-billion across their country via mobile money transfer. According to estimates by global telecoms researchers Pyramid Research, the value of money transfers over mobile networks in Africa will reach US$200 billion by 2015, almost 8% of Africa’s nominal GDP. Econet said with its ability to allow more Zimbabweans to move more money across the country faster and purchase goods using their mobiles, EcoCash will contribute significantly to economic growth.

To use EcoCash, customers will register with an accredited EcoCash agent. The customer will then access the EcoCash menu via a simple code on their mobile phone. They will then “Cash in”, which is to load money onto their virtual wallet. With that “e-money”, the customer can now send money, or buy airtime. Soon, paying bills and groceries will be possible via the service. To receive money, a user will “Cash out”, which is to receive money from a registered EcoCash agent.