Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD), the largest provider of mobile-phone services to South Africans, wants to retain 51 percent ownership of its unit in Democratic Republic of Congo, Chairman Peter Moyo said.
“Our intention is not to sell,” Moyo said at the operator’s annual shareholders meeting in Johannesburg today. “The Congo is a great opportunity for us.”
Vodacom, 65 percent-owned by Vodafone Group Ltd. (VOD), hopes a court case with a Congolese consultant will be heard in South Africa, before its shares in Congo are confiscated and auctioned, Moyo said.
The commercial court in Kinshasa, the Central African nation’s capital, in January ordered that Vodacom’s shares in the Congolese operation be confiscated and auctioned to pay Moto Mabanga’s Nameco Energy (Pty) Ltd. $21 million to settle a consulting dispute. The auction was later postponed by the president of the Supreme Court “pending the outcome of certain legal proceedings.” Vodacom had appealed the judgment.
The legal dispute was withdrawn from a South African High Court where Mabanga originally sued the Johannesburg-based company for $40.8 million, he said by phone today. “I took the matter back to the Congo because they were selling their shares there.”
Mabanga said his lawyer in Johannesburg, Stuart McCafferty of law firm Webber Wentzel, withdrew the case at the South Gauteng High Court when it was taken to Kinshasa last year. McCafferty wasn’t available for comment by phone. His assistant confirmed that McCafferty represented Mabanga.
Vodacom, which has already paid Mabanga a $2.8 million service fee, maintains that was a final settlement of its obligations to Mabanga.
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