Shareholder dispute delays GreenN launch in Sierra Leone

19 Nov 2013

A Sierra Leone court has issued an injunction on behalf of local businessman Michael Kenneth Ondaan, preventing start-up company Ambitel, which intends to provide telecoms services in the country under the GreenN brand, to launch operations or merge with another company, prior to the pending arbitration on an ongoing shareholder dispute, CFO World reports. According to the article, the forthcoming legal proceedings may take months, thus thwarting Ambitel’s plans to offer services in the near future. Ambitel CEO John Weir revealed that the company is ‘continuing to appeal this case, which we feel has been erroneously judged’ and added: ‘Ambitel is still committed to launching operations in Sierra Leone as we see a large potential in the market and we also want to provide all Sierra Leone citizens with quality mobile services’.

LAP Green Network, a subsidiary of Libyan government-owned investment vehicle Libyan Africa Portfolio (LAP), acquired 85% of Ambitel from the company’s founder Michael Ondaan in 2007 for a cash consideration of USD5 million, of which USD1.58 million was reportedly paid to the telecoms watchdog National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) and USD3.42 million. According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March 2013 reports in the local media suggested that the conditions of the deal had not yet been met, as Ondaan claimed that he was still owed a balance of USD2 million by LAP Green as part of the deal. Further, Ondaan revealed that a delegation from LAP Green’s Ugandan subsidiary, Uganda Telecom, arrived in Sierra Leone in February with a view to settling the company’s outstanding financial commitments to him, only to then offer a knock-down fee of USD50,000 in lieu of the balance.

For his part, Weir denied that his company was indebted to Ondaan, by adding that LAP Green was reportedly in possession of documentation supporting its claims that the company had fulfilled its contractual requirements. The executive also rebuked Ondaan’s assertions that he still owned 15% in the telecoms start-up, by revealing that ‘another individual’ was in possession of 5% stake in Ambitel, while Ondaan’s stake amounted to 10% of the share capital.

Sierra Leone, Ambitel (GreenN), LAP Green Network, National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM)