9mobile appeals High Court ruling over ownership

5 Apr 2019

Nigerian cellco Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS, trading as 9mobile) has issued a statement denying local press reports that the Federal High Court in Abuja has ‘nullified’ the November 2018 sale of the indebted company to Teleology Holdings, describing initial media coverage as ‘misleading’ and ‘a total falsehood’. EMTS is, however, appealing the 1 April 2019 court ruling which ordered all involved parties to ‘maintain status quo as at 25 April 2018’. EMTS highlighted that at the given date it was not a party to the lawsuit before the court, which it said did not concern the sale of 9mobile but rather, a licence transfer. EMTS has sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal, ThisDay reports.

Note that Teleology has already indicated its intention to withdraw its backing from 9mobile, in a decision reported in January 2019, just two months after taking over the company. In February 2018 Teleology had emerged as the preferred buyer for 9mobile (formerly branded Etisalat Nigeria) ahead of the only other bidder Smile Telecoms, and the acquisition was green-lit by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in November 2018.

The Federal High Court lawsuit in question was filed by two investors in the former Etisalat Nigeria, Afdin Ventures and Dirbia Nigeria, who had sued to retrieve their investments – estimated at USD43 million – on the grounds that they were excluded from the decision-making process of the company, The Nation Nigeria reported. Defendants in the suit are listed as: Karington Telecommunication, Premium Telecommunications Holdings, First Bank of Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria and the NCC.