Siva declares bankruptcy; former partner Batelco to still pursue for $212M dues

Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) said that it will pursue its former Indian partner and serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran to recover $212 million in dues even though the latter declared bankruptcy last week.

A British court issued an indefinite freeze in July on assets owned by Sivasankaran after his group firms missed the deadline to pay $212 million to the Bahrain telecom partner in a case pertaining to S Tel, a failed joint venture between the two companies.

Batelco had sought a full repayment of $212 million awarded by a British court against Indian born business tycoon C Sivasankaran and his Siva group of companies, following a litigation suit in its favour against the latter in England. The court held that the defendants -- Sivasankaran and Siva Ltd -- had failed to honour a Settlement Agreement signed in November 2011 relating to a commercial venture into which both parties had entered in 2009.

"Sivasankaran's bankruptcy will not thwart our determination to recover the money that he owes us," Batelco chief executive Alan Whelan said.

Sivasankaran had filed for bankruptcy in the Seychelles after the British court order a few weeks ago.

A Batelco arm had originally acquired a 42.7 per cent equity stake of India-registered S Tel in 2009. S Tel was awarded a 2G licence in 2008. Soon after the cancellation of 2G licence of the company, along with 121 other operators, by the Supreme Court of India in February 2012, BMIC sought to implement an agreed put option.

As per the agreement, it was decided that under certain circumstances like cancellation of S Tel’s 2G licence or failure to secure debt finance, Siva will have to buy back the shares acquired by BMIC at the original paid price. However, Siva failed to do so, which led Batelco launching legal proceedings.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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