New Delhi: War of words between the Ambani brothers on the family settlement erupted again tonight with younger sibling Anil’s group charging Mukesh’s Reliance Industries of attempting to sabotage its potential deal with South African telecom giant MTN.
Alleging that RIL had sent a communication to MTN group making a false claim of alleged right of first refusal to buy controlling stake in Reliance Communications, a spokesperson for Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group said, “RIL’s claim is legally and factually untenable, baseless and misconceived.”
An official spokesperson of RIL confirmed having sent communication to both MTN and RCom.“RIL has in good faith notified both Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and MTN Group of the stipulations contained in an agreement, the validity of which has never been questioned so far by ADAG,” said the spokesperson.
Asserting that RCom’s negotiations with MTN group for amalgamation were going well and that Mukesh group’s “mala fide” attempt would not derail the process, the spokesperson said ADAG has received this evening from MTN the communication made by RIL, which he dubbed as “an attempt borne out of mounting despair and frustration.”
The ADAG spokesperson said that at a time when exclusive negotiations were going on between RCom and the MTN Group, RIL’s “false claim” of an “alleged Right of First Refusal” to buy the controlling stake in RCom is “legally and factually untenable”.
He described the RIL claim as “baseless and misconceived”. He said RIL has based its claim on an agreement of 12 January 2006, which was “unilaterally” signed by its own officials when RCom was under the RIL control.
However, this “procedure” was held to be “unfair and unjust” by the Bombay High Court on 15 October 2006, the ADAG spokesman said. He said the RIL claims is from “frustration at ADAG Group’s continuing success and the support it enjoys from 10 million investors — the world’s largest shareholding family”.
RCom got into the negotiations with South African giant MTN for a deal last month, aimed at creating one of the world’s 10 largest telecom companies, with a potential worth of 70 billion dollars.
Before RCom took a plunge, MTN and Bharti Airtel were in talks, which however did not fructify.