Firm asks SEC to stop MTN from listing shares on stock market

The law firm of Charles Mekwunye and Co has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to immediately stop telecoms firm, MTN from listing it shares on the Nigerian stock market.The law firm, in a letter dated March 18, 2019 stated that MTN cannot list its shares on the Nigeria stock market due to an ongoing suit before the Supreme Court over the massive divestment of its assets.

The firm noted that MTN had been unfair to the Nigerian public and regulators by 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, the law firm said: “We are disappointed that you have refused and/or failed to call MTN to order in 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 calculated attempt as usual to defraud the Nigerian economy and the Nigerian investing public. “Please be advised that under the 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.”

Dr. Charles Mekwunye had in 2008 dragged MTN, Lotus Capital and Stanbic IBTC Asset Management, IHS Holding LTD and INT Towers Ltd before the Federal High Court over alleged breach of contract in the massive 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 then, to restrain MTN from listing its shares on the stock market pending the determination of the suit.

But ruling on a preliminary objection raised by MTN on the competence of the suit, the trial Judge, Justice Mojisola Olateru, 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 arguing 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 ruling of the Court of Appeal, Mekwunye took the matter to the Supreme Court, insisting that the crux of the matter is the failure of the respondents to list MTN shares in 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.