Axiata confirms receipt of Nepal court order on Ncell purchase

PETALING JAYA: Telco Axiata Group Bhd today confirmed its receipt of the full written order by the Supreme Court of Nepal on April 9 in relation to its oral order dated Feb 6 on a public interest litigation filed by a group of Nepali nationals.

The public interest litigants sought various orders from the court including that tax be collected from Ncell and Axiata Investments UK Ltd in relation to the indirect transfer to Axiata UK of an 80% stake in Ncell through the sale of Reynolds Holdings Ltd by the previous foreign investor, TeliaSonera Norway Nepal Holdings AS.

The order affirms that the Large Taxpayers Office should determine the outstanding tax amount to be paid in relation to the transaction within three months from the date of receipt of the order, and that the responsibility to pay tax lies with Ncell and Axiata.

Axiata is not a party to the litigation.

The court also said that distribution of dividends and any sale of Ncell shares should not be granted until the tax obligation is satisfied.

“Axiata and Ncell are reviewing the decision of the Supreme Court,” Axiata said in a statement today.

Pending the review, Axiata said, both it and Ncell have complied with all relevant regulatory and legal requirements in relation to the transaction and acknowledge the order without prejudice to their remedial rights.

Axiata said it had made significant contributions to the socio-economic development of Nepal. Ncell directly and indirectly supports over 93,800 jobs and connects over 16.3 million customers across its networks.

Ncell is the largest taxpayer in Nepal, contributing NPR 125.68 billion (US$1.17 billion) in taxes since fiscal year 2014/2015.