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Telenor seeks new partner in India's 2G license bid

Norwegian operator wants new partnership to bid for 2G licenses in India, thereby replacing current estranged partner Unitech.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

Norwegian operator Telenor wants a new partner to join its bid for 2G licenses in India, hence, replacing its estranged partner, Unitech, from its local joint venture Uninor.

The Economic Times reported Tuesday that Telenor, currently majority owner of the joint venture, also wants to increase its stake in the new company from 67.25 percent to 76 percent. The new partner will own the remaining 24 percent.

"We have finalized a fistful of Indian business houses which are not associated with the telecom business and are acceptable with owning 24 percent in the new firm," said Uninor's managing director, Sigve Brekke. He added Telenor will select its partner shortly.

Telenor's decision to form a new company with a new partner to bid for the 2G licenses comes just days after the Indian government announced foreign telcos now are allowed to bid in the upcoming 2G spectrum auctions on their own, without having to partner a local company. The government said it hoped this would encourage more participation in the auction--which came about after the Indian Supreme Court in February revoked all 122 existing 2G licenses.

Telenor wants to end its existing joint venture with India's Unitech Group. Both companies clashed lately since Uninor revealed plans to sell off its assets before the court-ordered cancellation of licenses on Sep. 7. The move prompted Unitech to approach the Company Law Board (CLB) to halt the sale.

Telenor responded, saying it would approach a higher court to "pursue every legal measure available", according to a separate Economic Times report.

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