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Etisalat drags MTN, NCC to court

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Telecommunication company, Etisalat, has dragged the Nigerian Communications Commission before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State over claims that the South African telecommunication company, MTN, has been given market advantage over it.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel for Etisalat, Aanu Ogunro, appeared before Justice Mohammed Idris with an application seeking the leave of the court for the suit to be heard during the court’s ongoing annual vacation.

Joined as a co-respondent with NCC in the suit is MTN.

Ogunro, while urging the judge to hear the suit, said it was urgent, claiming that if the decision of the NCC in favour of MTN was not reversed, it posed a threat to the business survival of Etisalat.

“My lord, we have a motion ex-parte for leave to ask for the judicial review of the decision of the first respondent.

“The urgency in this matter is that the first respondent has made certain decisions that, if not urgently addressed, will affect the business of the applicant and it is capable of eroding the capital and the business of the applicant within a very short time,” Ogunro said.

After hearing the lawyer, the judge granted the application to hear the suit during vacation and thereafter adjourned till August 3 to take the substantive application.

Etisalat, in the main suit, is seeking a review of a decision said to be recently taken by NCC allowing 30 per cent differential between MTN’s off-net and on-net retail mobile voice tariffs.

According to Etisalat, with the said 30 per cent differential between its off-net and on-net retail mobile voice tariffs, MTN had been able to create what is called a ‘calling club,’ an example of which is its ‘Family and Friends’ promo.

Etisalat is contending that MTN’s ‘Family and Friends’ promo, which offers a call rate of 11 kobo per second to eight MTN subscribers and two non-MTN subscribers, is posing a threat to its business survival.

It explained that the promo, which it claimed was launched in violation of NCC’s regulation, had aided MTN to leverage on its size to restrict outgoing traffic to smaller operators by pricing on-net tariffs lower so as to make off-net calls unattractive.”

Etisalat, however, claimed that this 30 per cent differential in on-net and off-net retail mobile voice tariffs granted MTN by NCC was a breach of NCC’s regulation tagged the Determination of Dominance in Selected Communications Markets in Nigeria.

The DDSCMN,  Etisalat said, was issued by NCC on April 25, 2013, following a study it conducted in 2012.

According to Etisalat, NCC had, following its 2012 study, discovered that MTN was the dominant operator in the retail mobile voice market segment of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria and that it maintained a wide differential of up to 300 per cent between its on-net and off-net retail voice tariff, which was not favourable to its competitors.

Following this discovery, the plaintiff said NCC directed that MTN should not operate with any differential between its on-net and off-net tarriffs  because such would substantially reduce the competitive capacity of other telecommunication service providers in the country.

Etisalat, however, said contrary to this earlier directive by NCC, MTN embarked on its ‘Family and Friends’ promo, which encouraged the creation of a calling club to the business detriment of the competitors.

Etisalat explained that when it realised that MTN had launched its promo, it wrote several letters, including one dated February 28, 2015, to NCC to complain but NCC refused and failed to compel MTN to immediately withdraw the aforesaid ‘Family an Friends’ tariff option.

It, however, said that NCC later wrote a letter dated April 14, 2015 to the plaintiff, disclosing that it had given MTN 30 per cent differential in on-net and off-net tariffs.

But Etisalat is contending that such leverage given by NCC to MTN would not allow the healthy competition within the telecommunications industry in Nigeria to be sustained.

It is therefore seeking a judicial review of the said decision by the NCC.

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BUSINESS

5G Deployment: Nigeria approves Microsoft’s agreement, migration of C-Band services

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The federal government has approved an Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and the clearing up of C-Band Spectrum in order to accelerate the deployment of 5G services in the country.

In a statement, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, on Thursday, said the approval was given during the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) last Wednesday.

This agreement is part of the federal government’s effort towards keeping the cost of IT projects within sustainable levels, the statement, signed by the Technical Assistant to Pantami, Dr Femi Adeluyi, revealed.

He said the agreement would give the government access to discounted prices and other cost benefits, as well as reduce project duplication across Federal Public Institutions (FPIs).

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Bitcoin posts its worst quarter in more than a decade

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Bitcoin on Thursday posted its worst quarterly loss in more than a decade.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency has lost around 58% of its value in the second quarter of 2022, according to data from CryptoCompare. Bitcoin has fallen from $45,524 at the start of the quarter and was trading just below $19,000 on Thursday, the last day of the three-month period.

This is the worst quarterly performance for bitcoin since the third quarter of 2011 when it lost 68.2% of its value.

Bitcoin is down 39.8% in June and is on pace for the worst month ever dating back to 2010 when it became available on exchanges, Coin Metrics data shows.

Meanwhile, ether is down 69.3% in the second quarter and is on track for its worst quarter on record, dating back to its inception in 2015, according to Coin Metrics data.

Coin collapse, 3AC liquidation
Cryptocurrency prices have come under intense pressure this quarter amid rampant inflation which has caused central banks around the world to raise interest rates and led to a sell-off in risk assets, such as stocks and digital coins.

The crash in prices has also exposed issues with a several cryptocurrency companies and projects, particularly those in the lending space and firms that are highly leveraged.

A number of high profile issues have come to light during the quarter.

In May, the algorithmic stablecoin terraUSD collapsed along with its sister token luna. A stablecoin is a digital currency pegged to a real-world asset. TerraUSD was supposed to be pegged one-to-one with the U.S. dollar. Some stablecoins such as tether are backed by real assets like fiat currencies and government bonds. But terraUSD was governed by an algorithm which effectively failed.

Then In June, crypto lending firm Celsius paused withdrawals for its customers citing “extreme market conditions.”

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange CoinFlex halted withdrawals for customers last week also citing “extreme market conditions.” But the company also claimed long-time crypto investor Roger Ver owes it $47 million after his account went into “negative equity.” Ver has denied that he owes CoinFlex money.

And the liquidity crisis has also hit prominent crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital which has fallen into liquidation, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

The latest downturn is being described as a new “crypto winter” and has also impacted growth and hiring at companies. Coinbase and BlockFi announced plans to lay off staff.

How does this cycle compare to the past?
Jacob Joseph, research analyst at CryptoCompare, notes that in the previous boom and bust cycle, bitcoin fell from a peak of $19,871 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to a low of $3,170 in the fourth quarter of 2018, suffering a drawdown of 8%.

Joseph said a similar fall of 82.2% was seen in 2014 when bitcoin fell from a high of $1,239 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to a low of $221 in the second quarter of 2015.

“This suggests that we could be in for a further drawdown period if the current poor macroeconomic conditions continue to persist,” Joseph told CNBC.

Other investors have expressed bearishness. In May, Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd, said bitcoin could drop to $8,000. At the time, the cryptocurrency was trading at around $30,000, representing a 70% fall.

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European markets set to retreat as caution persists after worst quarter since 2020

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European markets are set to pull back on Friday after suffering their worst quarter since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, as inflation and interest rate hikes continue to weigh on sentiment.

Britain’s FTSE 100 is seen around 38 points lower at 7,131, Germany’s DAX is set to fall by around 123 points to 12,661 and France’s CAC 40 is expected to drop by around 54 points to 5,869.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed the second quarter of the year on Thursday down 9% — the worst three-month period since the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 — and was down 16.6% year-to-date.

Global market sentiment remains gloomy as the war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating and inflationary pressures continue to mount, prompting central banks to embark on aggressive monetary policy tightening and exacerbating fears of a global economic slowdown.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were lower overnight with Japan’s Nikkei 225 leading losses in the region, after the Bank of Japan’s quarterly business sentiment survey posted a sharp decline in the April-June period.

However, China’s manufacturing activity expanded at its sharpest rate for 13 months in June, boosted by resurgent output after the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

U.S. stock futures also retreated in early premarket trade after the S&P 500 closed out its worst first-half performance since 1970, dropping 20.6% year-to-date by Thursday’s close.

Back in Europe, Reuters reported Thursday that the European Central Bank will on Friday begin a process of buying bonds from southern European nations, including Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. The ECB will reportedly use the proceeds from maturing German, French and Dutch debt, in a bid to cap spreads between their respective borrowing costs.

On the data front, a flash euro zone June inflation reading is due Friday morning, along with manufacturing PMIs from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

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