Telenor to proceed with Indian JV plans

Telenor to proceed with Indian JV plans

Telenor is reportedly going ahead with the transfer of its assets from Indian joint venture Uninor, despite an approaching petition hearing for partner, Unitech.

The Times of India reports that Telenor is in the process of getting the required approvals for the asset transfer, and is in talks with prospective partners for a new joint venture. This is despite a petition from Unitech, due to be held in the Gurgaon district court on May 16.

Sigve Brekke, MD at Uninor & Telenor Asia, reportedly said that Telenor had not received any order from the court blocking the transfer, and could therefore go ahead with the plans.

Unitech’s MD, Ajay Chandra, told the Economic Times that the real estate company had decided to pull out of the telecoms sector and will not enter a bid for a new telecoms licence when 2G spectrum is re-auctioned. He reportedly said that telecoms was not the company’s “core competency” and that it would stick with its real estate business.

The ongoing dispute between Telenor and Unitech came as a result of the cancellation of Uninor’s 2G licences by the Indian Supreme Court in February. Telenor blamed Unitech for the loss of the joint venture’s licences and has since been seeking a partner for a new venture to migrate Uninor’s customers to.

Telenor and Uninor sought to resolve their dispute in March through India’s Company Law Board (CLB). As a result Unitech was ordered by the board to either buy out Telenor’s shares in Uninor or sell off its own stake in the company. Unitech agreed to a sale but disputed the value of its shares, subsequently Unitech’s shares in Uninor were frozen by India’s Income Tax Department, which alleged that the company had outstanding tax charges of approximately $134 million.

Telenor has filed an application to The Supreme Court asking it to direct the Indian government to hold a re-auction of 2G licences by June 2, when its licences are cancelled. Should this not happen it may scupper the carrier’s new partnership plans.

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