Following yesterday’s announcement by Kuwaiti cellco MTC that its African arm Celtel had agreed a deal to purchase a 65% stake in Nigerian wireless operator Vee Networks (V-Mobile), Johannesburg-based Econet has thrown a spanner in the works by announcing that it has right of first refusal on the shares. Econet, which already has a 5% stake in V-Mobile has reportedly dispatched a team of 20 legal, financial and technical experts to Lagos to begin due diligence. Celtel, whose conditional offer of USD1 billion was revealed yesterday, will be hoping that Econet cannot afford to buy the shares. It will no doubt also be hoping that Econet will finally agree to settle long-running legal action which was instigated in 2003 after its bid to buy 33% of the company for USD150 million was derailed by a higher bid from Vodacom.
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