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Etisalat sues MTN for acquiring Visafone

By Adeyemi Adepetun   |   08 February 2016   |   5:38 am
Photo: innovation-village

Photo: innovation-village

A fresh controversy is trailing MTN Nigeria’s acquisition of the last surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Visafone Communications.

The Guardian learnt that Etisalat has instituted a legal action against MTN over the acquisition of Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum.

According to a source, Etisalat is aggrieved about the transaction, claiming that the South African firm, which has been a dominant player in Nigeria, is enjoying too much favoritism and that the deal would further give MTN more powers to dominate other players in the industry. Etisalat was also said to be aggrieved that the bid was not made open for other players to participate.

Etisalat’s Public Relations Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Division Officer, Chinesie Amanfo, confirmed that the firm has filed a suit against MTN over the acquisition.

Amanfo, responding to The Guardian enquiries, said: “The legal action is considered necessary to prevent the use of the Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market.

“You will recall 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.”

When MTN was contacted on the matter, a senior official of the telecommunications firm confirmed that Etisalat had taken the telecommunications firm to court over Visafone acquisition. “I can’t say more than that for now,” the official said.




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