MTN Swaziland Lost Court Bid to Stop New State-Owned Mobile-Phone Operator

MTN Group Ltd. (MTN)’s Swaziland unit lost a court bid to stop Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corp. from offering mobile-phone services in the country.

There isn’t a conflict of interest in the state-owned telecommunications company starting services as it is no longer a shareholder in MTN Swaziland Ltd., High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala said in the Mbabane-based court yesterday. The company’s 41 percent shareholding in MTN Swaziland was transferred to the ministry of finance, he said.

Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications is also no longer the industry regulator after that responsibility was taken over by the communications ministry, Maphalala said.

MTN Swaziland is the only mobile-phone operator in the southern African nation, and is 30 percent owned by South Africa’s MTN Group. The country’s King Mswati III owns a 10 percent stake in the company.

“We are dissatisfied with the judgment both in facts and in law,” MTN Swaziland spokesman Mpumelelo Makhubu said in an e-mailed response to a request for comment. “We are going through it and will consider options thereafter.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Vuyisile Hlathswayo in Mbabane at vshlatshwayo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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