News Column

Batelco Group wins claim against former partner

June 17, 2014

Avinash Saxena

MANAMA: Batelco Group has won a multi-million-dollar claim against its former Indian mobile investment partner Siva Limited and its chairman Chinnakannan Sivasankaran.

The High Court of Justice (Commercial Court) in London has upheld a damages claim from Batelco Millennium India Company (BMIC), a fully owned subsidiary of Batelco Group, awarding it $184.79 million plus $30,000 per day from November 1, 2012.

"The court has ordered the full recovery of $211.1m from the defendants," Batelco said yesterday reacting to the judgement.

The telecoms operator said the ruling confirmed its claim that the defendants failed to adhere to a Settlement Agreement relating to a commercial venture into which both parties had entered in 2009.

The dispute arose after Indian cellular joint venture STel had its operating licence cancelled by India'sSupreme Court in February 2012.

The licence was granted to STel in January 2008 and during 2009 BMIC paid $175 million to acquire 42.7per cent in STel from Sky City Foundation.

Sky City Foundation is a hedge fund that was part of a consortium that also sold a 51pc stake in STel to Siva in 2009.

BMIC and Siva also entered into an option agreement in 2009, under which Siva would have to buy BMIC's stake in STel at the same price that BMIC had paid for the acquisition.

The agreement would come into force if the company failed to secure finance, or in the event that the licence granted to STel faced a threat.

In March 2012, Batelco announced it had agreed to sell its stake in STel back to Sky City Foundation, receiving the price paid to acquire its holding.

However, as no payment was forthcoming by the deal's deadline of end-October 2012, the following month BMIC commenced litigation in the UK against Siva and Mr Sivasankaran for the recovery of $184.8 million.

Siva and Sky City could not be reached for comment.

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Source: Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)

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