Arbitrator awards N3.5b to firm over failed deal

A sole arbitrator, Olatunde Busari has awarded the sum of $9.7 million, approximately N3.5 billion to a businessman, Mr. Olatunde Titilayo and firm, Swap Technologies and Telecoms Plc. In a final award after ad hoc arbitration, the sole arbitrator also awarded $52,500 to the claimants, being a portion of the arbitrator’s fees.Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) represented claimants, while Mr. Adewale Atake (SAN) was the respondent’s lead counsel in the matter.

Swap Technologies and Telecom Plc was the claimant while IHS Towers NG Ltd was the respondent in the arbitration. The dispute arose over Managed Services and Collocation Services Agreement dated July 31, 2015.By virtue of the agreement, the claimants entered into a contract with the respondent for the management and operation of Swap Technologies and Telecoms’ 702 towers (tower sites).

A copy of the final award, made in January 21, was obtained yesterday.The sole arbitrator having heard and considered the evidence by the parties and submissions of counsel, directed in full and final settlement of all claims and counterclaims in the arbitration.

“The respondent shall pay to the claimants, within 21 days from the date of this award, $9,721,395.27 being the amount awarded on the claimants’ claim; $52,500, being 50 per cent of the portion of the arbitrator’s fees paid by the claimants; N12, 500,000, being 50 per cent of the assessed costs of legal representation for the claimants in this arbitration; N658, 235.50, being 50 per cent of the portion of the administrative expenses paid by the claimants in this arbitration,” the arbitrator held.

It was the claimants’ contention that the respondent had a contractual obligation to ultimately acquire Titilayo’s equity in Swap Technologies and Telecoms.The claimants said the agreement was only a stop-gap towards the actualisation of the acquisition goal.

But the respondent contended that the agreement gives it an option to acquire 100 per cent of Swap Technologies and Telecoms’s shares or such smaller percentage of Titilayo’s equity in the company at the relevant time pursuant to clause 12.3 of the agreement.IHS Towers was of the view that the option to acquire the shares was not an obligation under the agreement.

Joseph Onyekwere

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