Unitech agrees sale of Uninor stake

22 March 2012 |

Telenor’s partner in India, Unitech, has agreed “in principle” to sell its stake in Uninor to the Scandinavian carrier, according to newswire, Reuters.

India’s Company Law Board ruled last week that Unitech had until March 19 to decide whether it wanted to buy out or sell out of the joint venture. Both sides submitted their proposals in a closed door hearing on that date, with the hearing of the case expected to continue on Friday.

Relations between Telenor and Unitech had declined following the cancellation of Uninor’s 22 licences by the Indian Supreme Court in the wake of India’s 2G auction scandal. Telenor blames Unitech for the loss of the licences and has since been seeking to migrate the business into a fresh venture, which Unitech has said it cannot do without its permission.

In a separate move, Telenor also asked the Supreme Court to direct the government to hold auctions by June 2.

The Supreme Court had previously tasked India’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority with re-auctioning the 122 2G licences cancelled, within four months of the February 2 ruling.

India’s Telecoms Ministry had since then said it would take up to 400 days to re-auction the licences, which meant an uncertain future for the operators affected.

Middle Eastern operators Etisalat and Batelco, have already decided to abandon their Indian ventures following the loss of the licences.

Telenor owns a 67.25% stake in Uninor, investing an estimated $1.24 billion in the company, on top of $1.63 billion in guarantees of short term debt. Last month it was forced to write down $730 million related to the operations following the loss of the licences.