Etisalat is suing MTN Nigeria in connection to its acquisition of the CDMA provider Visafone.
The legal case is yet another setback for MTN in Nigeria, where the operator is already challenging the country’s regulators over a $3.9 billion fine. The market leader agreed to acquire Visafone last month after concluding protracted negotiations.
However, Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat has taken exception to the deal, as it will grant MTN the option of using Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum to augment its mobile data offering. This could make it unfairly difficult for Etisalat’s Nigerian unit – placed fourth in the market – to compete.
The Visafone acquisition has already received approval from the NCC, with a regulatory spokesman stating that it had not received any objection to the matter from Etisalat. Despite this, the Middle Eastern operator has reportedly already challenged MTN in court over the deal, stating “not to challenge will entrench the dominance of MTN in the data services market.”
While Etisalat has a respectable 25.2 million subscribers, it still tails Airtel and Globacom which each boast 32.8 million, and all three lag significantly behind MTN which expects to have 68.2 million subscribers by the end of Q1 this year.