Uninor to make fresh bid for 2G spectrum

Uninor to make fresh bid for 2G spectrum

Telecom company to file appeal against SC ruling

Telecom firm Uninor, a joint venture between Norwegian Telenor and India’s Unitech, which made Rs 14,000 crore investment three years ago, said on Monday that it will participate in the bidding for 2G spectrum but did not rule out an exit option in the future.

In an unscheduled interaction with mediapersons, Uninor’s managing director Sigve
Brekke, however, said the company will look at the base and the reserve price for the spectrum before participating in the bidding process.

Uninor, among the most aggressive of India’s newer telecoms companies, has close to 40 million customers.

Brekke, who is also Telenor’s Asia head, said the company has been unfairly harmed by the court’s order.

Telenor which hit the Indian market in late 2008 bought a majority stake in Unitech. It now holds 67.25 per cent ownership share in the joint venture.

The Supreme Court last week ordered cancellation of Uninor’s licence along with other new operators on the basis that all licences for 2G spectrum were issued illegally in 2008.

The apex court has asked the government to seek fresh recommendations from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to distribute licences and spectrum through auction and complete the process within four months. Trai has already begun the process.

“We have been asked to lose all just because India in hindsight has changed its mind. Is that fair?” Brekke said.

“We had nothing to do with any of these policies. We did not devise them. We did not implement them. Why should we be penalised for simply following the process that the Government of India asked us to follow,” he said.

The company is planning to come out with an advertisements to tell its customers that it is very much present in India and their (consumers’) interests have not been harmed.

The managing director also said Telenor plans to file an appeal against the Supreme Court’s to cancel 22 telecoms licences held by the Indian joint venture. “We will fight. We are not running away. This I can tell you very clearly. We have made lawful investments in India and we will do everything we can to protect them,” Brekke said.

Norwegian IT Minister Rigmor Aasrud has sought an appointment with her Indian counterpart Kapil Sibal to discuss the issue.

A majority of shares in Telenor is held by the Norwegian government and, according to Brekke, her government has announced that it will contribute actively to secure Telenor’s investments and presence in India.