Norwegian Energy Firm Eltek Demands Mfone Pay Up

Norwegian energy firm Eltek on Thursday demanded $5 million it is owed from bankrupt telecommunications company Mfone by the end of October and blamed the court and the government for stalling payment.

During a meeting at Mfone’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang III commune, Eltek officials met with court-appointed administrator Ouk Ry in an attempt to hash out a deal.

“Our clear value at this moment is $3.6 million, but including legal fees, it rises to about $5 [million]. The date discussed in the meeting for payment was by the end of October,” Sven Skaug, director and country manager for Eltek, said after the closed-door meeting.

Last year, Eltek filed an injunction at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to freeze Mfone’s assets and obtain the money it is owed for installing communications technology. The court later approved the injunction, but then rejected it in an effort to pay back other creditors in the case faster.

“The main point for us is that we have requested a freeze of assets in September 2012. This was approved in [October] 2012, yet bankruptcy was not filed until June 2013. This does not seem to be taken into consideration at all,” Mr. Skaug said.

Kuoy Thunna, Eltek’s lawyer, said the firm should be owed the money quickly because it is the second-largest creditor and was the first to complain.

“Eltek must receive payment first because this company is a large complainant and had [the first] court injunction,” he said.

Chinese technology firm Huawei is the largest creditor and is owed $65 million. Huawei also filed an injunction, which was also first accepted and then overturned, after Eltek.

Mr. Ry said after the meeting that Mfone is working to pay all its creditors quickly.

“They wanted us to pay the debt to Eltek soon, but we told them that we are working to sell Mfone’s assets to pay all creditors,” Mr. Ry said.

Mfone owes more than $160 million to at least 1,000 creditors, but the company is currently valued at $107 million. So far, more than $700,000 has been paid out to creditors, including $390,000 to former employees, Mr. Ry said.

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