By Staff Writer

Cell C has slammed its black economic empowerment partner, CellSaf for threatening to go to court again if a planned restructuring of the mobile phone operator goes ahead.

CellSAf holds a 25% debt-free and unencumbered stake in 3C Telecommunications, the owners of Cell C.

In an e-mailed statement on Sunday to TechCentral, CellSAf said that it remains “resolutely opposed” to the recapitalisation plan for Cell C, in terms of which JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms will acquire 45% of the business for R5,5bn. Other shareholders, including CellSAf, will be diluted in the process.

However, Cell C’s chairman, Mohammed Hariri, said on Monday in a statement that the accusations against the Cell C board by CellSaf are “baseless”.

He said the directors who represent CellSAf in 3C Telecommunications, the sole shareholder of Cell C, had received all necessary documentation and information pertaining to the Recapitalisation Plan and were fully informed throughout the process.

Two of the directors representing CellSAf in 3C Telecommunications approved the Recapitalisation Plan in December 2015, Hariri said.

Since December 2015, CellSAf has launched several unsuccessful and “ill-conceived legal proceedings to block the Recapitalization Plan and even attempted to wind-up Cell C’s holding company,” said the chairman.

“The intended purpose of CellSaf’s failed legal actions and claims was to obtain an undeserved and unwarranted financial gain.”

Cell C added that CellSaf’s claim that it is expected to assume additional liabilities of almost R3 billion is “completely untrue”.

“It is important to note, that CellSAf holds a 25% debt-free and unencumbered stake in 3C Telecommunications and therefore has no liabilities,” said Hariri.

“Contrary to its claims in the media, CellSaf has also never provided any financial investment or operational support to Cell C since its launch”.

Cell C said Oger Group has invested over $1.5bn over the last 16 years to ensure Cell C continues to operate, despite never receiving any dividends.

“The Cell C Board is disappointed by CellSAf’s statements given that the recapitalisation of Cell C will ensure a sustainable business for all concerned, including CellSAf. The deal will secure the sustainability of Cell C’s business, thus allowing customers to continue benefiting from competitive offerings and greater choice and features in connectivity and communication.”

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