Monday, October 10, 2011

Maxis Communications denies wrongdoing in acquisition of Aircel

KUALA LUMPUR: Maxis Communications Bhd (MCB) has denied any wrongdoing and said the acquisition of India's Aircel Ltd was a commercial, arms length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

In a statement Monday, Oct 10, Maxis said it had paid the asking price demanded by the seller, Siva Ventures Limited (Siva).

The telecommunications giant said this in response to media reports that a First Information Report (FIR) had been registered by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), commencing formal investigations in relation to, among other things, the purchase by MCB of Aircel in India in 2006.

The company said whilst it had not be provided the FIR, MCB understood that it was expressly named in the FIR, along with other nominated persons, and that the FIR related to allegations of coercion and corruption surrounding the Aircel purchase.

'MCB has been aware of investigations being made by the CBI for some time now and has extended its full co-operation.

'Whilst disappointed that the FIR has been filed, MCB will continue to co-operate with the CBI in its investigation in full confidence that the allegations against it will prove to be unfounded and without basis,' it said.

MCB said that furthermore, it had recently fully successfully defended international arbitration proceedings brought against it by the former owner of Aircel, Siva, whose claims against MCB were dismissed in their entirety.

MCB said it would continue in its commitment to the Indian telecommunications market in which it had invested more than US$8 billion since it acquired Aircel to establish and develop a pan Indian mobile telephony business, along the way building a subscriber base of more than 50 million customers.

This investment includes US$2.5 billion invested in the 2010 Indian 3G/BWA spectrum auction and in respect of the deployment of 3G network over Aircel's licence areas, it said.

Earlier today, it was reported that the CBI had filed a case against tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan and Ralph Marshall, along with former Indian minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi in relation to a charge of criminal conspiracy over a deal involving Maxis and India's Aircel.

The Hindustan Times reported on Monday, Oct 10 that Dayanidhi was accused of conspiracy, abuse of power and bribery as per the FIR.

The CBI has also been investigating the private telephone exchange that functioned at his residence ' wheren 300 telephone connections had linked his residence with Sun TV offices when he was the telecom minister, it said.

Meanwhile, it said Dayanidhi was being investigated on a complaint by industrialist C Sivasankaran that he was forced to exit mobile telephony company Aircel by the former minister and sell to Maxis Group of Malaysia.

He alleged that Aircel was deprived of telecom license till it was sold out to Maxis group, it said.

The Hindustan Times said that according to the complaint, Maran had stalled the application for 2G license from Aircel when it was owned by Sivasankaran and cleared the application after the company changed hands when Sivasankaran sold out his stake to Maxis.

"CBI has registered case against Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall and T Anandkrishnan and three companies under section 120b of IPC read with 13(2) with 13 (1)(d) and also section 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Case was registered on October 9. Searches were conducted at Delhi and Chennai," CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra was quoted by the Hindustan Times.

Former Aircel chief C Sivasankaran alleged that Maran as the then telecom minister favoured Maxis-group in the takeover of his company and in return investments were made by the company through Astro network in Sun TV owned by Maran family, it said.

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