NEQSOL Holding, which became a new 49%-shareholder of Caucasus Online last year, talks about new details of its recent relations with the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC).
The company had to return Caucasus Online shares to their original condition by September 20 - as determined by Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC). In an interview with Forbes Georgia Editor-in-Chief Giorgi Isakadze, Temur Taghiyev, Head of Strategic Development at NEQSOL Holding, talks about a new offer that will enable the company to protect its investment in the current dispute.
- Given that GNCC was quite active in August and they issued a statement, a decision, which is dated September 20, I would like to ask you about the details of the recent relations between NEQSOL and the GNCC - what is the current status of relations? What is the position of NEQSOL Holding today?
- Despite passive holidays, we have a lot of news. I will not go into legal details. We have already prepared an offer that will meet our demands to protect our investments. We believe that this offer will meet the requirements of the GNCC.
-Do you mean that this offer has already been submitted to the GNCC?
-Yes, we have submitted some ideas to the GNCC and we are waiting for their response. I hope we find a solution that works for both parties. Another major news is that the Digital Silk Road project has hit the top five infrastructure projects selected by the Global Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum. We truly believe that this project will attract more and more global potential and achieve great international success.
- In August, the GNCC released a short video. This is a short film about the digital silk road. What is your opinion on this video and what is the position of NEQSOL Holding?
- It is a very interesting video, however, for me, it is a kind of surprise, because the idea presented by the GNCC coincides with our project. The idea of creating a digital hub in Georgia is completely based on the idea of a digital silk road. I think this is a kind of misunderstanding. To support their idea, the GNCC can find an investor in NEQSOL Holding, because we are ready to invest in infrastructure development, both in Georgia and in the Caspian Sea. We believe that our region has the greatest potential to become a digital hub. As we now see, the idea of a digital silk road is gaining more and more international attention. This week we are going to present our project at the Global Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum in the USA. This is one of the major infrastructure events organized by Norman Anderson. He is a leading US policy-maker in strategic and critical infrastructure. I think this is a good time to implement these projects. Ideally, we should do this with the support of the Georgian government - together with GNCC.
In 2019, the company NEQSOL acquired a 49% stake in the parent company of "Caucasus Online" and paid $61 million for it. This deal was followed by a sharp response from the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) and the government. The commission indicated that the deal was not pre-arranged with them, which should have resulted in a tougher sanction for the Caucasus Online. Finally, Parliament hastily passed a law authorizing the commission to appoint a special manager in companies. The deadline given by the GNCC to change the disputed transaction to NEQSOL expired yesterday, September 20th.
NEQSOL Holding is one of the largest energy and telecommunications holdings in Azerbaijan. It includes a 100% stake in the country's largest mobile operator - BakCell and AzerTelecom. In addition, the company also owns Vodafone Ukraine, a leading Ukrainian telecommunications company with 20 million subscribers.
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