MTN demands SZL850m compensation from SPTC

18 Jul 2012

MTN Swaziland is seeking SZL850 million (USD102.2 million) in compensation from state-owned fixed line operator Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) following the latter’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to launch as a mobile operator. In March 2012 the SPTC offered to withdraw its ‘ONE’ mobile phone and fixed-wireless ‘FixedFone’ services from the market, in a bid to end its ongoing dispute with MTN, the country’s sole mobile operator. The proposal was made on the eve of a hearing at the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva which sought to put an end to the long-running feud. Although the SPTC’s dual initiative proved short-lived, MTN is now seeking compensation for both the act of breaching the joint-venture agreement between the two parties, and for the losses that it claims it suffered when customers signed up for SPTC’s rival services. However, it has been noted by the Times of Swaziland that the compensation claim is identical to the value attached to SPTC’s 41% stake in the cellco, suggesting that MTN may use the lawsuit as a way of breaking up the partnership.