Johannesburg - The Democratic Republic of Congo Supreme
Court has suspended a planned mandatory auction of shares in the local unit of
South African mobile phone provider Vodacom Group [JSE:VOD], the parent company
said on Monday.
The auction was planned for June 3 but was suspended pending
the outcome of “certain legal proceedings”, the group said in a statement,
without giving further details.
Vodacom, a unit of Britain’s Vodafone Plc, said on May 21 it
would fight a court ruling which said that it must pay $21m in fees to local
consultant Namemco Energy or face the sale of all its shares in the Congolese
The company was already locked in a long-standing battle
over fees with its partner in the DRC, Congolese Wireless Network.
It had been looking at options to exit the business, but
that process has been halted by the suit from Namemco.
The value of the unit is also disputed. Congolese Wireless
Network chairman Alieu Conteh told Reuters in 2010 that Vodacom Congo was worth
more than $1.5bn, a figure Vodacom quickly described as “ludicrous”.
Vodacom’s major African operations are in South Africa, the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, where it is fighting to defend
market share from larger competitors such as MTN Group [JSE:MTN] and India’s
Vodacom shares in Johannesburg were up 0.48% at R102.15 at
10:01 GMT compared with a 0.31% fall in the JSE Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200]
index of blue-chip companies.