Norwegian operator Telenor has announced its intent to bid for 2G spectrum licences in India, after settling its dispute with its former partner in the market, Unitech. Telewings Communication Services, a firm fully owned by Telenor, has submitted an application to India’s Department of Telecoms. It is looking to bid for spectrum in the 1800MHz band.
The CEO at Indian operator Uninor Yogesh Malik has resigned from his position citing personal reasons. Sigve Brekke, currently head of majority owner Telenor Group’s Asia operations, will also act interim CEO while the firm seeks Malik’s successor.
Norwegian operator group Telenor will cease operating in Mumbai, after being told by India’s Supreme Court to shut down its operations in the city. The operator’s Indian subsidiary, Uninor, will lose around 1.84 million customers as a result.
Norwegian operator group Telenor has reached an agreement with Indian partner Unitech to settle all disputes regarding their failed joint venture in India, Uninor. Unitech has agreed to dispose of its shareholding in Uninor for a nominal amount.
A court in India has ruled that Norwegian operator group Telenor may only bid for spectrum in the country’s upcoming 2G auction if it does so as part of its joint venture with Indian real estate firm Unitech. The auction is now set to be held in January 2013, after the Supreme Court of India granted the government another deadline extension.
India’s Cabinet has approved a reduced reserve price for the country’s planned 2G spectrum auction, which will reallocate the licences that were cancelled in February this year. But telecoms minister Kapil Sibal has told the Supreme Court that the proposed August 31 deadline for the spectrum auction is still not likely to be met.
Nordic operator Telenor is attempting to auction off its business in India, as it seeks to cut ties with its JV partner Unitech. The operator owns 67 per cent of Uninor, with the remaining stake owned by Indian real estate firm Unitech. In February this year, the JV lost the 2G licences it won in the country’s 2008 spectrum auction after India’s Supreme Court cancelled the licenses amid allegations of corruption.
Despite already having closed their services in India, announcing that they will cease doing business in the country and notifying their subscribers to move to a different network, operators S Tel and Etisalat have been told by India’s telecoms regulator that they must continue offering services until the license cancellation date. Loop Telecom has also announced that it will be exiting the market but must continue offering services until June 2, 2012.
India’s 2G spectrum scandal has cast a cloud over the country’s telecoms sector so dark that former Telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja is said to feel safer in prison than he does walking down the street. He has been sat in a cell for over a year, refusing to post bail and stands accused of taking bribes to sell spectrum to firms at discounted rates.
Nordic operator group Telenor has said that it will do what it can to keep Indian subsidiary Uninor operating in the country. Last week, the Supreme Court of India cancelled 122 telecoms licences that were awarded in a 2008 spectrum sale, citing corruption in the sales process of the licences.