Continuing with its efforts to save global telecom giant Telenor's investments in India, visiting Norwegian Information Technology Minister Rigmor Aasrud on Tuesday met Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal and discussed ways to find out a solution to the entire issue.
Stung by the Supreme Court's order, cancelling all 122 licences issued in 2008 by the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, now in Tihar Jail, Telenor, which is present in India through a joint venture with Unitech in Uninor, finds at stake its Rs.14,000 crore invested in its India operations so far. The Norwegian government holds majority stake in Telenor.
“We had good, fruitful and constructive meeting with the Telecom Minister. We took up the Telenor's case along with other issues,” Ms. Rigmor Aasrud told journalists after meeting Mr. Sibal. They discussed various issues related to the 2G controversy.
Later Mr. Sibal said: “The (Norwegian) IT Minister and the Telenor official met me to share their perceptions and we had a dialogue on this issue. I told them that it (the apex court verdict) will bring clarity to the sector…the sector is robust and enough spectrum is available. The (National Telecom Policy-2011) policy which will be put out will be fair and robust.” Asked how the verdict would affect foreign investments, Mr. Sibal said the domestic telecom market was full of opportunities. “No one should be in doubt on the investments to come into India…the sector is robust and has enough spectrum available,” he added.
On the other hand, Uninor Managing Director and Telenor's Asia operations head Sigve Brekke said: “We will do everything to protect our investment…we also need to make sure that there is a framework for continuing our operations and this is what all our discussions are all about.” The company has demanded that only new payers should be allowed in the proposed spectrum auction to provide a level-playing field.
In its earlier statement, Telenor had said: “Our intention is to fight to protect our lawful investments in the country. We are looking to the government to arrive at a fair solution. We expect that the intention remains of bringing new competition to India. The Norwegian Government has announced that they are monitoring the situation and will actively contribute to find solutions to secure Telenor's investments and presence in India.”