New Delhi: Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has started an arbitration process against Reliance Communications (RCom) that is talking to South African telecom giant MTN for a merger deal.
In a statement, that almost coincided with RCom’s charge that RIL issued a fourth letter threatening legal action on MTN discussions, RIL said: “RCom has refused to participate in the conciliation meetings under the alternate dispute resolutions provisions contained in the Non-Competition Agreement.”
“RIL has commenced arbitration proceedings by nominating Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India as an arbitrator for the resolution of the disputes,” it added.
RCom spokesperson, on the other hand, said that “RIL’s notice for arbitration proceedings is legally and factually unwarranted”.
The spokesperson also accused the elder Ambani’s group of “successfully destroying” India’s image in foreign eyes and said RIL’s malafide design to derail discussions with MTN has been clearly exposed.
Right of refusal
In the middle of the discussions between RCom and MTN for a possible deal that could create a $70-billion entity, RIL had written to the two companies that it had the right of first refusal for a majority holding in the ADA group company and threatened legal action in case its rights were violated.
The letter, written in June, had led to eruption of the bitter battle between the two Ambani brothers once again, nearly three years after the two had reached a family settlement for division of the Reliance Empire.
The two sides continued to clash after the 18 June, 2005 settlement every once in a while both inside and outside the courts on various issues relating to the family pact.
RCom officials had not reached for conciliation talks on July 7, proposed by RIL.
This had led to a bitter wrangle and exchange of letters on both sides, with RCom proposing a meeting to clarify any doubts but not as part of conciliation talks, an offer rejected by RIL which instead said: “We are left with no alternative but to adopt such proceeding against you.”