India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has announced that it has acquired an additional 13.36% stake in Airtel Networks Limited, Nigeria from certain existing shareholders, through its wholly owned subsidiary Bharti Airtel Nigeria.

While the financial details of this acquisition were not disclosed, the company said that following this acquisition, Bharti Airtel Nigeria now owns 79.06% stake in Airtel Networks Limited, Nigeria.

Airtel v/s Econet Wireless: Bharti Airtel Nigeria previously held 65.7% stake in Airtel Networks Limited, Nigeria as part of the Zain Africa acquisition. However, the ownership has been under arbitration for the past two years, since the South Africa based Econet Wireless which held 5% stake in the entity, believed that it had the first right to buy Zain Nigeria and had filed an appeal against Airtel.

In January 2012, the Nigerian High Court ordered Airtel to reinstate Econet Wireless’s 5% stake, following which Airtel had immediately filed an appeal against the judgement along with an injunction to stop Econet from exercising its rights as per the court judgment. A month later, Econet had filed a counter affidavit opposing Airtel’s injunction appeal. It also filed a lawsuit against Bharti Airtel seeking atleast $3.1 billion damages over the ownership dispute.

In May 2012, the Nigerian High Court had dismissed Airtel’s stay order and in October 2012, the Lagos High Court in Nigeria had dismissed (pdf) Bharti Airtel’s appeal.

Airtel’s African Financials: For the quarter ending December 2012, Airtel had reported (pdf) total revenues of Rs 6,169 crore and a net loss of Rs 520 crore in the African continent. It had reported to have 61.69 million subscribers (Excel file) in the continent as of December 2012.

Bharti Airtel currently operates in 17 countries in Africa including Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo B, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It also offers 3G services in 11 countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Congo B, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and Madagascar.

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