LAGOS, APRIL 19, 2018 – The planned sale of unstable 9mobile has again hit a roadblock following an order by an Abuja Federal High Court to halt the planned sale; this is the result of a recent move by some aggrieved shareholders of the company.
Top on the list of the shareholders is Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited – who claimed to be major investors, complained of being left out in the firm’s decision making process and have demanded for a refund of $43,330,950 invested in the telco.
FINANCIAL WATCH gathered that a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/288/2018 has Karlington Telecommunications Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as defendants.
On April 17 this year, Justice Binta Nyako, after hearing plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) moved an ex-parte motion, ruled that “an order is made for the maintenance of the status quo as at today.”
Justice Nyako, who said “the defendants ought to be heard,”also ordered the service of processes on them including the third and fifth (First Bank and Etisalat), whose addresses are outside jurisdiction.
The judge, who also ordered that “the writ be marked as concurrent,” adjourned to May 14 for mention.
In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs said they bought shares in Etisalat from the first and second defendants (Karlington Ltd and Premium Holdings) through “a private placement memorandum in which the third defendant (First Bank) served as a custodian of the plaintiffs’ share certificate.”
They said while the first plaintiff (Afdin Ventures) “bought 1,300,391 Class A shares at $13,003,910,” which it paid for on August 14, 2009, the second plaintiff (Dirbia Ltd) acquired 3,300,004 Class A shares at $30,030,040, for which it made payment on September 3, 2009.
The plaintiffs said they paid for the shares through the first and second defendants’ First Bank accounts.
In a supporting affidavit, the General Manager of the first plaintiff and a director in the second plaintiff, Sani Ibrahim, said the problem with Etisalat resulted from the mismanagement of its funds.
He said the plaintiffs’ grouse arose from not only the firm’s mismanagement, it includes its inability to declare dividends from 2009 till date and the move by the defendants to conduct a clandestine sale of the company at the detriment of the plaintiffs.
Ibrahim stated that “in 2015, the first, second and fifth defendants took several loans from 13 Nigerian banks with a view to expanding and boosting their telecommunication business, but that the money was not properly utilised, leading to heavy indebtedness on the first, second and fifth defendants.”
He added that, owing to the resultant heavy indebtedness, the first and second defendants “rebranded the fifth defendant (Etisalat) and changed its name to 9mobile with a view to selling it off and obtaining money to pay its numerous debts.
“The first, second, third and fifth defendants have failed to declare dividends on the shares of the plaintiffs since 2009 till date.
“The first, second, third and fifth defendants have completed arrangement to sell the rebranded 9mobile to Smile Com and Glo Network without the knowledge of the plaintiffs, who are its major investors.
“If not restrained, the first, second, third and fifth defendants will sell Etisalat International (also known as 9mobile) and disappear with the plaintiffs’ investment,” Ibrahim said.