Airtel Ordered To Revert Name and 5% Shares To Econet
Looking at the name change timeline of the company now known as Airtel, it’s about time for a change of name. Just in time, a Federal High Court has ordered Airtel Nigeria to revert to its former name, Econet Wireless Limited. The court also ordered Bharti Airtel to reinstate Econet’s 5% stake in Airtel Nigeria.
In 2010, Zain sold its stake in its Nigerian business to Bharti Airtel for $10.7 billion despite Econet Wireless’ refusal as a major shareholder in the company. Econet Wireless is an international company domiciled in the UK.
The Court also ordered that all actions, and resolutions taken by the company, since October 2003, at which Econet was entitled to be notified, and to participate in, as a shareholder, but was prohibited, were null and void. This includes decisions to sell, issue and transfer shares to third parties. The Corporate Affairs Commission has also been ordered by the court to cancel previously issued certificates for change of name and restore it to Econet Wireless Limited.
In response to the judgement, Econet has issued a statement saying it has written Airtel and requested full information concerning board decisions and shareholder resolutions in accordance with the Companies Act. Group Chairman of Econet Wireless, Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, was quoted in the statement saying in October 2003, Econet received a letter from the chairman of the company Oba Otudeko who informed Econet that it was decided at a board meeting that they were no longer a shareholder.
Airtel has filed an appeal to this judgement and they say:
“In the light of the judgment by the Federal High Court of Nigeria regarding Econet Wireless Limited’s claim to the ownership of five percent equity in Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel Nigeria), an appeal against the said judgment has been filed by Airtel Nigeria.”
This will definitely be a total brand mess for Airtel’s customers as a lot of us still call it ‘Zain’. My dad still calls it Econet.
We’ll keep you updated as more details unfold. For now, what do you think about this judgement? Please leave us a comment.