Norwegian minister meets Sibal, discusses Telenor issue

Norwegian minister meets Sibal, discusses Telenor issue

Continuing with the diplomatic drive to secure state-owned Telenor's $3 billion investment in India, a key Norwegian minister met Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday and raised her government's concerns on the issue.

Sibal told reporters later that he had assured the Norwegian minister that there will be no adverse impact of Supreme Court judgment on the telecom sector.

Oslo-based Telenor, which operates under the brand name Uninor, stands to lose all its licences following the Supreme Court's order to the Indian government last week to cancel all 122 licences for 2G spectrum issued in 2008.

"We had good, fruitful and constructive meeting with telecom minister. We took up Telenor's case along with other issues," Rigmor Aasrud, Norway's minister of government administration, reform and Church affairs, who also oversees telecom portfolio, told reporters after the meeting.

“The Norwegian minister and an official met me. I told them there will be no impact on the telecom sector but we have got an opportunity to form a clear and transparent policy on telecom,” Sibal told reporters. 

The talks took place even as Uninor Monday said it would consider seeking a review of the Supreme Court order and also bid for the spectrum only if certain conditions were met, including restricting older players from participating in the auction.

Talking to reporters Monday, Aasrud had said: "Telenor has not done anything wrong in India. That is, as I understand, that the court has made a decision about how the government handled all the licenses."

Sigve Brekke, the managing director of Uninor, also made it clear that the company, with all the support from the parent company and the Norwegian government, intended to fight for its rights.

"If you ask me if I am angry and upset, the answer is yes. I am angry and upset. It's very clear we are unfairly harmed. We are not to be blamed for something that happened in the past," Brekke said.

"We are trying to work on all different tools we have. Of course, also working on legal options. It's possible to sit down and talk and we have started talks with both the government and the regulator," he added.

Uninor boasts of having 40 million subscribers across the country.