A British court has ordered a worldwide freeze on assets of Batelco’s former Indian investment partner Siva Limited and its chairman Chinnakannan Sivasankaran.
The Bahrain-based international telecommunications group said that its fully owned subsidiary Batelco Millennium India Company (BMIC) had approached the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, in the UK on July 16 saying the defendants were in breach of the court’s ruling of June 12 awarding it $212 million.
The court had then upheld a claim from BMIC that the defendants failed to honour a settlement agreement relating to a commercial venture into which both parties had entered in 2009, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The defendants were ordered to pay by June 26.
Batelco said, however, neither Sivasankaran nor Siva Limited complied with the court’s order and no payment has yet been made.
The latest court order also requires Sivasankaran to make full disclosure of his assets.
“The court found no merit whatsoever in the arguments made by the defendants in the case and we cannot see why the payment has not been made,” Batelco Group chief executive Alan Whelan said.
“It is Batelco’s intention to take whatever enforcement action it considers appropriate against the defendants for the full judgement amount.”
The dispute arose after Indian cellular joint venture STel had its operating licence cancelled by India’s Supreme Court in February 2012.
The licence was granted to STel in January 2008 and during 2009 BMIC paid $175 million to acquire 42.7 per cent in STel from Sky City Foundation.
Sky City Foundation is a hedge fund that was part of a consortium that also sold a 51 per cent stake in STel to Siva Limited in 2009.
BMIC and Siva also entered into an option agreement in 2009, under which Siva would have to buy BMIC’s stake in STel at the same price that BMIC had paid for the acquisition.
The agreement would come into force if the company failed to secure finance, or in the event that the licence granted to STel faced a threat.
In March 2012, Batelco announced it had agreed to sell its stake in STel back to Sky City Foundation, receiving the price paid to acquire its holding.
However, as no payment was forthcoming by the deal’s deadline of end-October 2012, the following month BMIC commenced litigation in the UK against Siva and Sivasankaran for the recovery of $184.8 million.
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