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Visafone acqusition - We'll meet Etisalat in court - MTN

MTN Nigeria said it is ready to meet Etisalat Nigeria in court over its acquisition of Visafone Communications Limited. MTN is deploying the 800MHz spectrum for the commercial rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for its fourth generation (4G) network.
Visafone acqusition - We'll meet Etisalat in court - MTNNigeria's leading mobile operator yesterday confirmed that it has been served it with court summons based on a lawsuit filed by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (Etisalat Nigeria) over the acquisition of Visafone.

According to MTN executive, Amina Oyagbola, "Etisalat has filed a lawsuit against MTN and Visafone, and we have filed appropriate processes before the court for necessary determination. The acquisition of Visafone was concluded after obtaining all necessary statutory and regulatory approvals. I am not able to comment further as the matter is subjudice."

Oyagbola added that the acquisition allows Visafone and MTN to leverage resources for service enhancement whilst also deepening the growth and roll-out of broadband services across the country in support of the National Broadband Plan for the benefit of Nigerians.

She also made reference to media reports credited to regulatory authorities that the acquisition would help sustain the continuity of CDMA services in Nigeria in addition to being beneficial to operators and subscribers.

It will be recalled that this is not the first time Etisalat is suing MTN.

In July, 2015 the company filed a suit against the NCC and MTN, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking a number of orders including an Order of Mandamus to compel NCC to direct MTN to withdraw its 11kobo per second tariff plan, amongst others. This was the same tariff plan widely advertised and being charged by other networks including Etisalat and approved by the NCC. MTN filed a Preliminary Objection challenging the suit, and on 2 December, 2015, Etisalat's action was dismissed by the court with costs awarded in favour of NCC and MTN.

Etisalat said the action is considered necessary to prevent the use of the spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market. It said that MTN Nigeria was declared dominant by the Nigerian Communications Commission 'NCC' in 2013 and remains dominant in the wholesale leased line and retail voice markets.

"The use of the 800MHz spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of its competitors, particularly those who prior to MTNs purchase of Visafone, held similar spectrum bands as MTN, will further entrench MTN's dominance in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.

"We have in addition and in line with Section 86 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 engaged the NCC to understand the basis of its decision to approve the acquisition. As you are aware, the matter is already in court as such, we are restrained from commenting further on the matter" Etisalat said in a statement.


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