Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) has sought damages and compensation of about USD 3 billion. Airtel said it will appeal against the judgement before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
"Bharti Airtel, a 79.06% shareholder in Airtel Networks Ltd, Nigeria (Airtel Nigeria) is not satisfied with the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, delivered on February 14 and will lodge an appeal against that decision at the Supreme Court of Nigeria," Airtel said today in a statement.
The Indian company said the disputed shares are in an escrow account and the judgement would have no impact on the stake of Bharti Airtel or other Airtel Nigeria shareholders.
No comments were received from EWN. Airtel Nigeria is part of the African telecom business that Bharti Airtel acquired from Zain for about USD 10.7 billion.
"Airtel Nigeria has already launched an appeal before the Supreme Court of Nigeria against the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna in the matter relating to Econet's claim for 5 per cent shares in Airtel Nigeria," the statement said.
Reacting to the USD 3 billion sought by EWN, Airtel said, "We would like to unequivocally state that neither of these orders of the Courts of Appeals in Lagos and in Kaduna deal with the quantum of damages and no such quantum has been determined."
Nigeria is among the top markets for Airtel's Africa business and contributed about 30 per cent to revenue from the continent in 2012-13.
"Bharti Airtel and Airtel Nigeria have full confidence in the laws of the land, and believe the Supreme Court in Nigeria will determine the appeals on merits. Airtel wishes to assure its customers, employees and business partners that these judgements will in no way affect operations of Airtel Nigeria," it said in the statement.
The dispute dates back to 2003, when EWN says a series of improper decisions were taken by Nigerian members of the company, which resulted in the cancellation of Econet Wireless Ltd's (EWL) shares in EWN, deletion of its name from the register of shareholders and change of name to Vee Mobile Networks.
On 24 January 2012, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled that EWL's shareholding in the company must be reinstated, according to the company's website.


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