African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) claims that global telecoms group BT won’t be able to end its relationship.
AEEI is a subsidiary of Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Group.
Fin24 previously reported about BT’s intensions to split from Sekunjalo. BT (formerly British Telecom) is the UK’s biggest fixed-voice and broadband provider.
In 2008, BT sold a 30% stake in its BT Communications Services South Africa (BTSA) to Sekunjalo as part of a black empowerment deal.
But the global giant announced last week that it will cut its ties with Sekunjalo, and will “explore alternative options” to meet its BEE obligations.
According to its contract with BT has an option to buy back its shares from AEEI in “the event of an act or omission which is not remedied within 60 days”.
A BT spokesperson had said the company had to corrected a misrepresentation of facts about its relationship with the Sekunjalo Group, made to Parliament’s Standing Committee of Finance, and that it will cut ties with Sekunjalo.
However, AEEI on Wednesday issued a statement saying that BT cannot exercise its call option.
“AEEI has been a shareholder of BTSA since 2008 and has played an important role in BTSA having and maintaining its Icasa [Independent Communications Authority of South Africa] license. We have also enjoyed an excellent relationship with BTSA during this time,” the statement read.
“AEEI has today accordingly informed BT that it denies that the call option is capable of being exercised.”
“BT will be exploring alternative options to meet its BEE and licensing obligations,” a BT spokesperson told Fin24.
AEEI said it would make no further media statements on the matter and would deal with the BTSA shareholding through its board of directors on BTSA and with its co-shareholder BT Limited.