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Uninor set to break even

Jon-Fredrik Baksaas in New Delhi on Thursday. (Reuters)

New Delhi, Nov. 29: Mobile firm Uninor, in which Norway’s Telenor holds a majority stake, is confident of breaking even in all circles by the end of next year.

“I am delighted to celebrate our first break-even in India. We expect to not only have positive EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortisation) but also turn cash-flow positive by 2013 in all circles. The cash-flow date has been advanced by one year,” Telenor group president and CEO Jon-Fredrik Baksaas told reporters here.

Uninor’s licences are valid till January 18, 2013, according to the Supreme Court’s order in February. After this, the assets and businesses of the company will be transferred to a new entity — Telewings — in which Telenor owns around 74 per cent.

The Norwegian company recently ended its association with local real estate developer Unitech, its partner in Uninor, and said the assets of the joint venture would be transferred to Telewings.

Sudhir Valia, a director of drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical, last month joined Telewings as a 26 per cent stakeholder.

“At present, we have 30 million subscribers in six circles where we have secured spectrum. In UP East, where we have reached EBIDTA break-even before the target date of 2013, there are over 7.2 million customers,” Baksaas said.

At the time of starting operations, Uninor had set a target of reporting positive EBIDTA in 2013 and be cash-flow positive by 2014.

Telenor Group recently secured spectrum through auction to operate in six service areas — UP East, UP West, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra — for around Rs 4,018 crore at around eight times a higher price compared with the price paid for permits till 2008.

Baksaas also clarified that Telenor had no immediate plans to seek new partners for its Indian operations.

“We have a partner, we have a structure, rest is speculation,” said Baksaas.

Earlier this week, reports suggested that Telenor was in talks to merge operations with Tata Teleservices.

Telenor CEO also said he did not expect any increase in tariff.

 
 
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