War of words among two Reliance groups continues

July 17th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 17 (IANS) The war of words between the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) and Reliance Industries over the proposed consolidation talks with South African telecom giant MTN continued Thursday - this time over an arbitration notice. A statement issued by ADAG, which is discussing a possible consolidation between Reliance Communications and MTN, said another letter issued to the South African firm by Reliance Industries had established its mala fide intentions.

“RIL has issued (its) fourth letter today (Thursday) threatening legal action on MTN discussions,” the statement by Reliance Communications said, referring to the notice issued to MTN by the rival group led by Mukesh Ambani, the elder brother of Anil Ambani.

“RIL’s mala fide design to derail MTN discussions (is) clearly exposed. RIL has successfully destroyed India’s image in foreign eyes,” the statement said. “RIL’s notice for arbitration proceedings (is) legally and factually unwarranted.”

The latest in the spat between the groups controlled by the billionaire Ambani brothers comes barely a week after MTN and Reliance Communications extended their 45-day exclusivity talks by 10 days.

“MTN has agreed to continue its negotiations with Reliance in relation to such potential business combination, and has extended the period of exclusivity until 21 July 2008,” MTN said in a statement last week.

Reliance Communications, India’s second biggest mobile operator, is in exclusive talks with MTN. If successful, the talks would net the merged entity with more than 116 million mobile subscribers across India, West Asia and Africa.

The two companies had announced May 26 they had entered into the negotiations for 45 days for a potential business combination.

But the Mukesh Ambani-led group contacted MTN to say that it had the first right to refuse a stake in Reliance Communications, should they be sold, following a split in the group created by the late Dhirubhai Ambani.

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