RIL invokes dispute resolution provisions against RCom

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New Delhi, Jul 3 (UNI) Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today said it has invoked the provisions of dispute resolution contained in the agreement signed with Reliance Communication (RCom) and invited the firm for mutual settlement in the ongoing fued between the two companies on possible merger of telecom giant with South Africa's MTN Group.

''RIL has invoked the provisions of dispute resolution contained in the Non-Competition Agreement dated January 12, 2006 and has invited RCom to participate in the process of mutual conciliation prior to commencement of formal arbitration,'' a company spokesperson said.

RCom was set up by Mukesh Ambani but later the company went to his younger brother Anil Ambani when the Reliance empire ws divided between them after a long public spat over ownership issue.

Earlier, RIL had told RCom and MTN Group that it had the first right of refusal to buy a controlling stake, based on an agreement made when the telecom firm was under its control.

It had threatened legal action if the two firms went ahead with the merger.

On the other hand, RCom denied signing any agreement having such a provision and was ready to go to court.

''Reliance Industries' claim is legally and factually untenable, baseless, and misconceived,'' the company had said.

Media reports suggest that RCom might be contemplating to acquire a direct stake in MTN to avoid legal disputes.

RCom has been in talks with MTN since late May for a business combination which could create a top-10 global telecom firm with operations in about two dozen countries.

Reliance Communications, the flagship of ADAG, had about 49 million subscribers at the end of May in the country's fast-growing mobile market, now the largest in the world after China.

MTN, which has a market capitalisation of about 31 billion dollars, is sub-Saharan Africa's leading mobile operator. At the end of March, it had 68 million subscribers in 21 countries in Africa and the West Asia.

UNI MP PDT VC2202

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