Lawyer seeks to stop MTN’s stock market listing
A Lagos Lawyer Dr. Charles Mekwunye has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stop telecoms giant, MTN from listing its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
In a March 18 letter, Mekwunye, of Charles Mekwunye and Co, stated that MTN could not list its shares on the market because of a suit before the Supreme Court concerning the “massive” divestment of its assets.
The letter claimed that MTN had been unfair to the Nigerian public and regulators by allegedly not disclosing the pendency of a civil matter over its shares when it recently announced its proposed initial public offer.
In the letter to SEC, Mekwunye said: “We are disappointed that you have refused and/or failed to call MTN to order in the light of recent publications relating to its proposed Initial Public Offer (IPO) without any reference whatsoever to the appeal pending before the Supreme Court involving the massive divestment of its assets.
“We consider the move by MTN as unfair, misleading, and a calculated attempt as usual to defraud the Nigerian economy and the Nigerian investing public.
“Please be advised that under Nigerian law and jurisprudence, MTN cannot disrespect the Supreme Court by interfering with the subject matter of litigation before the apex court in the land.”
Mekwunye, in 2008, sued MTN, Lotus Capital and Stanbic IBTC Asset Management, IHS Holding LTD and INT Towers Ltd at the Federal High Court for alleged breach of contract in the divestment of MTN assets.
Mekwunye claimed at the lower court that MTN, through its appointed nominee, Stanbic IBTC Asset Management and LOTUS Capital, defaulted in a share investment agreement with him.
He urged the court, to restrain MTN from listing its shares on the stock market pending the determination of the suit.
Justice Mojisola Olateru, while ruling on a preliminary objection raised by MTN on the competence of the suit, asked parties in the suit to explore the arbitration clause embedded in the contract.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the lower court, Mekwunye filed a motion on notice on February 26, 2018 at the Court of Appeal.
He argued that an arbitration clause in agreement between him and MTN cannot be used to determine the suit involving IHS Holdings Ltd and INT Towers Ltd who are not parties to the arbitration clause.
The Court of Appeal, in its ruling, also asked parties in the suit to pursue arbitration earlier pointed out by the lower court.
Still not satisfied with the appellate court’s ruling, Mekwunye approached the Supreme Court, insisting that the crux of the matter is the failure of the respondents to list MTN shares on NSE in 2011 as agreed by parties and that until the suit is properly determined, MTN ought not to be allowed to list its shares at the stock market.