Maintaining its interests have been "innocently harmed"due to adverse developments in the Indian telecom sector, Norway onSaturday said any failure of Telenor's $3 billion investmentin India will have political implications. "Telenor is not just any company. 54 per cent of the sharesare owned by Norwegian people through state and thus, it has evenfurther political implications that such a company will be harmed. "If this investment fails, it will be probably the biggestloss a Norwegian company has in foreign investments ever. I thinkalso it will be fair to say that it will influence the view ofIndia as an investment country," Norwegian Trade and IndustryMinister Trond Giske, told reporters in New Delhi. |
Mr. Giske is the representative of Norwegian government on theboard of Telenor, which holds 67.25 per cent stake in telecomoperator Uninor. The balance is held by realty major Unitech. As many as 22 licences of Uninor were among the 122 licencescancelled by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012 issued duringthe tenure of the then Telecom Minister A.
Raja. Uninor has permitsto operate till September 7, 2012. Mr. Giske added that Norway and India share good bilateralrelations and expressed hope that the issues will be resolved soon. "Bilateral relations between India and Norway are strong andthey can handle any challenges.
It might have effect on investorsbut government to government cooperation continues throughout allproblems," Mr. Giske said. "This situation after the Supreme Court ruling with thewithdrawal of licences and proposals from the Telecom RegulatoryAuthority of India for new auction, have created obstacles to ourfuture engagement," he said. To continue its telecom operation, Telenor needs to acquire newlicences and win spectrum through the upcoming auction. However,the company has expressed concern over the auction proposals of thetelecom regulator.
TRAI had suggested a base price of Rs. 3,622 crore for onemegahertz (MHz) for pan-India spectrum. This is around 10 timeshigher than the price at which 2G licences bundled with 4.4 MHzspectrum were allocated in 2008 during Mr. Raja's tenure. According to TRAI's recommendations, a minimum of 5 Mhzspectrum should be allotted, which means that pan-India airwaves in1800 MHz band will cost Rs.
18,100 crore. Telenor has objected to the high base price recommended by TRAIalong with network rollout obligations and the quantum of spectrumproposed for auction. Mr. Giske said the Norwegian government fully respects the rightsof Indian institutions' to take decisions but have"innocently harmed" the interests of Telenor andUninor. "I think it is truly possible to strike a balance and find acommon ground where both Supreme Court decisions are fullyrespected, revenues to the Indian government is secure andcompetition and good service are provided to customers throughparticipation of Telenor," Mr.
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