NTA initiates investigation into Ncell share transactions

Kathmandu: The Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), the regulatory body overseeing telecom operations, has announced a thorough investigation into the recent sale and purchase of Ncell’s shares, expressing concerns about the process.

Purushottam Khanal, Chairman of the NTA, conveyed this decision during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, emphasizing that the transaction’s legitimacy is in question.

Chairman Khanal revealed that the NTA has acquired the agreement between Axiata and Spectrlite UK, pertaining to the purchase and sale of 100 percent shares of Reynold Holding, owned by the Axiata Group.

The regulatory body is currently scrutinizing the agreement documents, signaling a proactive approach to ensuring transparency in the telecom sector.

Furthermore, Khanal disclosed that a committee would be established by the Council of Ministers, under the direction of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, to delve deeper into the matter. He clarified that a letter had already been sent to Ncell, informing them that approval for the transaction would be contingent upon a comprehensive examination of pricing and procedural matters.

In response to the NTA’s communication, Ncell provided a written commitment on Tuesday, assuring compliance with regulatory provisions and expressing the intent to seek NTA approval for the share purchase and sale. Khanal highlighted that the NTA would undertake additional investigations if suspicions surrounding the sale and purchase of Ncell stakes persisted.

The parliamentary committee also sought clarification from the NTA regarding arrears exceeding Rs 2.2 billion from nine telecommunication service providers, to be recovered within three months.

Lawmakers, including Dr. Swarnim Wagle from the Rastriya Swatantra Party, called for an inquiry into the management of Ncell, stressing the potential negative impact on Nepal’s reputation among foreign investors. Other legislators, such as Dipak Khadka, Biraj Bhakta Shrestha, Ganga Karki, and Purna Bahadur Tamang, echoed the demand for a thorough investigation into the matter.

In response to mounting concerns, Ncell Axiata released a statement on Wednesday, committing to abide by the laws of Nepal in share purchase and sale. The telecom company asserted its commitment to legal responsibilities and emphasized its dedication to upholding the rule of law in the ongoing transaction. Ncell is currently engaged in discussions on the agreement documents, which will be promptly submitted to the NTA once finalized.