New Delhi, May 12 (PTI): Norway has said that any failure of Telenor's $3 billion investment, "innocently harmed" by adverse developments, will have political implications.
Norway's trade and industry minister, Trong Giske, pointed out that Telenor is not just any company--54 per cent of the shares are owned by Norwegian people through the state.
"If this investment fails, it will be probably the biggest loss a Norwegian company has in foreign investments ever. I think also it will be fair to say that it will influence the view of India as an investment country," Giske told reporters here.
Giske represents the Norwegian government on the board of Telenor, which holds a 67.25 per cent stake in mobile telephony operator Uninor, with the balance held by Indian realty major Unitech.
On February 2, the Supreme Court had cancelled 122 licences granted to various telecom companies in 2008 during a scam-tainted sale when A Raja was the telecom minister. Of these, Uninor had bagged 22 licences. Uninor has been permitted to operate till September 7.
Giske said Norway and India share good bilateral relations and expressed hope that the issues will be resolved soon.
"Bilateral relations between India and Norway are strong and they can handle any challenges. It might have effect on investors but government to government cooperation continues throughout all problems," Giske said.
This situation after the Supreme Court ruling with the withdrawal of licences and proposals from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for auctions have "created obstacles to our future engagement," he said.
To continue its telecom operation, Telenor needs to acquire new licences and win spectrum at the planned auction.
But Telenor is concerned over Trai's proposals for a base price at the auction.
The Trai had suggested a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for one megahertz (mHz) for pan-India spectrum. This is around 10 times higher than the price at which 2G licences bundled with 4.4 mHz spectrum were allocated in 2008 during Raja's tenure.
According to Trai's recommendations, a minimum of 5 mHz spectrum should be allotted, which means that pan-India airwaves in 1800 mHz band will cost Rs 18,100 crore.
Telenor has objected to the high base price recommended by Trai along with network roll-out obligations and the quantum of spectrum proposed for auction.
Giske said the Norwegian government fully respects the rights of Indian institutions' to take decisions but have "innocently harmed" the interests of Telenor and Uninor.
"I think it is truly possible to strike a balance and find a common ground where both Supreme Court decisions are fully respected, revenues to the Indian government is secure and competition and good service are provided to customers through participation of Telenor," Giske said.