Maxis owner was in India-like deal controversy in SL | india | Hindustan Times
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Maxis owner was in India-like deal controversy in SL

india Updated: Nov 05, 2011 01:18 IST
Manoj Gairola
Manoj Gairola
Hindustan Times
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Maxis owner and Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan, who is accused by CBI of forcing C Sivasankaran out of Aircel in collusion with Dayanidhi Maran, was involved in a similar controversy in Sri Lanka.

In 2007, the Sri Lankan cabinet approved a proposal to sell Japanese telecom giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp's (NTT) stake in Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) to Maxis. Public Enterprise Reform Commission (PERC), a body set up by the government to advise it on public enterprises reforms, questioned the deal. Opposition party United National Party also made it a big issue.

Reports appearing in Sri Lankan press said Ananda Krishnan and a top Sri Lanka politician colluded to force NTT out of SLT so that Maxis could buy NTT stake. The top politician held an important position in the cabinet. This happened a year after the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The deal was stayed for 10 months by the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, when former minister Sripathy Sooriarachchi filed a petition against it alleging corruption.

NTT bought 35.2% stake and management control in SLT, which was earlier a 100% government-owned company, in 1997 for $225 million through a bidding process.

After eleven years of running the company and making investments in it, NTT was forced to sell its entire stake and management control to Maxis, allegedly under pressure from the Lankan politician. Critics say Ralph Marshall, a Krishnan aide, was a go-between in Maxis's links with politicians.

Both Krishnan and Marshall are also named as accused in the first information report filed by CBI in India.

The SLT deal was opposed by the PERC, which questioned the eligibility of Global Telecommunications Holdings (GTH), a subsidiary of Maxis.

Sooriarachchi petitioned that the government should call for tenders and select a strategic partner to give SLT technical expertise. The court stayed the deal in June, 2007. A month later, the PERC was suddenly scrapped.

In April 2008, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court vacated the stay and Maxis, through GTH, bought a 35.2% stake in SLT for $297 million from NTT.

Krishnan did not reply to repeated emails sent to him by Hindustan Times.

On October 9, CBI filed an FIR against former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother and promoter of SUN TV Group, Kalanithi Maran, T Ananda Krishnan, promoter of Maxis, Malaysia and Ralph Marshall, chairman of Maxis, Malaysia in relation to the Aircel-Maxis deal.