In the wake of 2G mess, Telenor, Sistema seek Indian government's intervention to safeguard their investments

Having invested heavily in India's booming telecom sector, global telecom giants are now pursuing diplomatic channels to wriggle out of the mess following the cancellation of their Indian partners' telecom licences by the Supreme Court. Norway's Telenor and Russia's Sistema have officially sought the Indian government's intervention to safeguard its investments.

While Norwegian Information Technology Minister Rigmor Aasrud is likely to meet Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday to raise the issue of Telenor's future in India, Russian authorities are already in touch with Indian diplomats to safeguard the Sistema Group's investments. UAE's Etisalat is still to reveal its strategy as it is still studying the Supreme Court judgment.

Joint strategy

However, sources said three foreign firms were also considering a joint strategy to petition the government through their respective diplomatic channels to find a solution. Their plea is that they entered India following requests from the Indian government to bring in foreign direct investments. Moreover, the firms said they could not be held responsible for the illegality of the licence-issuing process; they invested in those firms that were known to have been awarded licences after getting all clearances.

A senior External Affairs Ministry official said: “There are three companies [Telenor, Sistema, Etisalat] which have some degree of investment from foreign governments or companies. We hope that Norway, which also believes in the rule of law, appreciates the outcome of the legal process.” Uninor Managing Director and Telenor Asia head Sigve Brekke said they have sought the Norwegian government's help.

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