Norwegian Mobile Company buys into Indian Future

(29 Oct 2008, BWCS Staff)

Norwegian telco Telenor is to buy a 60% stake in Indian mobile operator Unitech Wireless for a reported US$1.07 billion. The purchase will give Telenor control of one of the new Indian operators that received licences and radio spectrum earlier this year. Unitech has operating licenses covering all 22 telecom circles in the subcontinent and plans to launch services next year.

According to press reports, the Norwegian company will pay for the stake in four separate parts with the entire transaction expected to be completed by the end of September 2009. Telenor says it will fund the purchase with a rights issue worth NKr12 billion planned for early next year.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian company's growing empire is said to be under threat in Russia, where a local court has frozen Telenor and Altimo's stakes in mobile operator Vimpelcom. According to reports in the Financial Times, a Siberian court has frozen the shares following a lawsuit taken out by a minority share-holder in Vimpelcom. The suit relates to Vimplecom's failure to expand into the Ukraine earlier this year. The court held that Telenor, which owns 29.9% of the Russian operator, was liable for US$2.8 billion in damages. Telenor is appealing against the ruling.

Telenor said it only learned of the ruling through a press release. However, if the story is found to be true, the Norwegian operator has promised to use "all available means" to have the decision overturned. Telenor's appeal will be heard on 18 November.


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