Court Asks Government Not to Revoke Mfone’s License

A court-appointed administrator in charge of liquidating bankrupt mobile operator Mfone has asked the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) to re-evaluate its decision to revoke the company’s operating license as the move will decrease the value of the company’s assets.

“We have sent a letter to TRC, informing them that we do not recognize the revoking of all frequencies and licenses [of Mfone],” the administrator, Ouk Ry, said during an all-day meeting with hundreds of creditors on Monday at Mfone’s shuttered offices on Monivong Boulevard. “I would like to appeal to all creditors to make a joint statement and send to TRC to oppose the decision because…this affects the price of Mfone’s assets.”

Mr. Ry said the decision by the country’s regulator would only serve to make it more difficult to repay the thousands of creditors seeking money from Mfone.

TRC issued an announcement to revoke the license on March 18 after receiving advice to do so from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The company’s total assets are currently valued at $107 million, of which its network infrastructure is worth $99.2 million. The amount of debt owed to creditors currently stands at about $160 million.

TRC Deputy Director Lay Marivo declined to comment on the proceedings but said the decision to revoke the license was made in order to prevent Mfone from selling its frequencies to another operator.

“We just stated the administrator could not sell all frequencies and licenses. I don’t want to talk about this because this is a secret problem,” he said.

Creditors at Monday’s meeting said they support Mr. Ry’s request.

“The revocation of the frequencies and relevant licenses is contrary to the court’s injunction since the court has already issued two injunctions. The frequencies and licenses have a value, so if they revoke them, it means they revoke an asset,” said Kuoy Thunna, the lawyer for Norwegian energy firm Eltek, which claims it is owed $3.73 million by Mfone.

In October, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued an injunction on behalf of Eltek, and in January, it issued another on behalf of Chinese technology giant Huawei, which claims it is owed $65 million.

During Monday’s meeting, Mr. Ry and other officials also informed creditors of possible solutions—such as leasing the firm’s facilities to other operators—and advised Eltek and Huawei to drop their injunctions to make it easier for the administrator to sell Mfone’s assets—a move both said they would consider.

“We don’t care about whether or not to withdraw the injunction. The point is how do we dispose of the assets. What we care about is the money and how much money we can get back,” Aron Zheng, Huawei’s lawyer, told the officials and creditors.

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