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Telenor hunts for JV partner

MUMBAI: Telenor’s future in India will depend on the rules laid down by the government for re-auction of 2G spectrum and a long-term , favourable regulatory environment, said a senior executive from the Nordic telecom firm.

Telenor, which has started the search for a new Indian partner after announcing its proposed split and compensation claim from Unitech, said it will be difficult for the telecom major to go into the re-auction if the broader policy framework was not made clear soon by the Indian government.

Telenor and Unitech together operate the Uninor brand in India through a joint venture, and have been confronted with various disagreements , finally culminating in the cancellation of its 22 licences in a February 2 order by the Supreme Court of India.

Telenor Asia head and Uninor MD Sigve Brekke said on Sunday that its new partner will hold the mandatory 26%, as stipulated by the government’s FDI regulations , with rest of the stake being held by Telenor unlike its current JV partner Unitech which has a 33% shareholding in Unitech Wireless.

“We don’t see a future with Unitech and, therefore, we are seeking a new partner . As far as the notice of an indemnity claim goes, it is a precursor to the actual claim. The damage amount will depend on a lot of things once we get in to the re-auction process. Unitech has a different view on this and we respect that,” Brekke said.

The damages being claimed by Telenor have been refuted by Unitech and there is no clarity in terms of how Telenor will induct a new partner without the real estate major Unitech giving way. “We can’t force a new partner that will be a process running simultaneously while we fight our other battles ,” he added.The first strain in the JV started when Telenor wanted to raise Rs 8,200 crore with the help of a rights issue which Unitech did not approve of, instead preferring the debt route. When asked if Unitech has a first right of refusal as far as a new partner goes, Brekke refused to comment stating it was a confidential issue between the two parties.

“We came here with a long-term ambition and this is what we tell our investors. Also, we are here to make money. We have to look at the auction criterion very carefully and then take a call. The option to exit is always there but we don’t want to take it up,” he said.

Redialling India

Norwegian telco says future in India will depend on new rules for spectrum re-auction , favourable regulatory environment Wants two rounds of auctions: The first where new entrants can bid for start-up spectrum of 6.2 MHz, and second where incumbents can bid for capacity addition Around Rs 14,000 crore has already been invested in their brand Uninor and it has around 40 million subscribers.

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Posted by on Feb 20 2012. Filed under Business India News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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