Sunday, January 17, 2010

DRCongo - Vodacom’s partner says it’s owed US$166 Million, may sue

[bloomberg] Congolese Wireless Networks, the minority shareholder in Vodacom Congo Sprl, said the venture with Vodacom Group Ltd. is owed more than $166 million in dividends, according to a complaint filed Dec. 17 with Congo’s attorney general.

The attorney general could take the case to court “if he believed the complaint had merit and was serious,” CWN’s lawyer, Roger Masamba, said by phone in Kinshasa yesterday.

Neither the attorney general nor CWN have filed the case in court yet, Masamba said.

The legal filing accuses Vodacom of usury, fraud, and abuse of trust, mainly over a loan that allegedly resulted in CWN paying improper interest payments, fees, and a bank guarantee. It also asks for $25 million in damages and 8 percent interest on the disputed payments.

Richard Boorman, spokesman for Johannesburg-based Vodacom, denied the allegations.

“It is absolutely incorrect to say Vodacom owes any money to CWN, nor does it owe money to Vodacom Congo,” Boorman said in a phone interview Jan. 12. “Payments to Vodacom Group were made in accordance with terms explicitly agreed with CWN partners.”

Vodacom Congo is the Central African country’s joint market leader with Kuwait’s Zain. Vodacom, the largest provider of wireless services to South Africans took control of Congolese Wireless in 2002. France Telecom SA and Johannesburg-based MTN Group Ltd. last year also expressed interest in entering Congo, Africa’s fourth-most-populous nation, with 65 million inhabitants.

Vodacom’s Congo Partner Says It’s Owed $166 Million, May Sue

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