Sale of NTT’s SLT shares suspended by court

15 Jun 2007

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has suspended a sale of shares in national PTO Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) held by Japan’s NTT, pending a corruption probe. The Japanese operator recently agreed to sell a 25% stake in SLT to the Usaha Tegas group, which controls Malaysian operator Maxis Communications. NTT currently holds a 35% stake in SLT and has a management contract which would end if its stake drops below 10%. The Sri Lankan government owns 49.5% of the telco and has appointed a committee to work out a new management agreement with the Malaysian group. However, the court suspended the deal on the grounds of a lack of transparency, and set a new hearing date for 17 September. The decision followed a petition brought by former government minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, which alleged that the sale would result in unacceptable losses to the government and the country.