Asserting that it is in India for a long-haul race, Norway-based Telenor Group declared that it would indeed participate in the Supreme Court-ordained auction for the 2G spectrum by teaming up with a yet-to-be identified new local partner.
Telenor would have a majority 74 per cent in the still-to-be-formed new company. The Norwegian Group had already moved the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) seeking approval for its proposed new joint outfit and investment.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Sigve Brekke, Managing Director, Uninor, a joint venture between Telenor and Unitech, said Telenor had initiated parleys with many players for forming a new joint venture.
The apex court, it may be recalled, had, on February 2, cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum, including that of Uninor.
The Group's near-term worry and priority, however, was to find a solution for a full disengagement with its existing partner. Once that was done, it could then kick-start the process of transferring all the assets under the current joint venture (Uninor) to the new company, he said.
Quizzed on the need for divorcing the existing partner, he tried to put things in perspective by pointing to the differences between the two partners over the planned rights issues to raise Rs.8,000 crore. Since the Indian partner had shut the door on the rights issue, the Telenor Group, which had already invested close to Rs.6,135 crore in the joint venture, had to raise overseas short-term debt worth Rs.8,000 crore by providing corporate guarantee. He said the group would vet all options, including that of invoking the bilateral treaty with Singapore, to protect investment in India. “We have not decided on this yet,” he, however, hastened to add. The Norwegian Government had also given its support to the Telenor cause in this specific issue, he added.
Mr. Brekke insisted that the group came to India with a long-term view of 15-20 years.
“We have not come here to make a quick buck and leave,” he asserted. He maintained that “India is an exciting place in terms of growth potential and size of the market,” he said.
“We continue to hold that view despite the Supreme Court ruling,” he added.