New Delhi, June 13: Norwegian telecom giant Telenor wants to take complete ownership of its Indian arm by acquiring a 26 per cent stake held by Indian investors through Lakshdeep Investments & Finance for Rs 780 crore.
Telenor said it had filed an application with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), seeking to raise its stake to 100 per cent in Telewings Communications, which runs the mobile services under the Uninor brand.
The move was expected as Telenor Group’s Asia head Sigve Brekke had spoken of their plans to raise the stake after the Indian government allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecom.
“An application has been filed with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board of the government of India, seeking approval for an additional investment of Rs 780 crore to raise ownership in Uninor to 100 per cent,” Telenor said in a statement.
Telenor had partnered Lakshdeep , run by Sun Pharmaceuticals’ Sudhir Valia, to create Telewings Communications in October 2012, after a bitter battle with previous partner Unitech.
Telenor said its Indian arm had participated in two separate spectrum auctions to acquire radiowaves in the range of 5Mhz to 7.2Mhz in seven circles that together represent more than half of India’s population.
“This year, Uninor has announced an additional investment of Rs 500 crore towards expansion of its network and distribution infrastructure by 30 per cent,” the statement said.
Uninor, which has over 30 million customers, currently offers services in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP East and UP West and is planning to launch services in Assam this year.
“Uninor has now emerged as the fourth-largest mobile operator by both customer and revenue share in its best circles,” the statement said.
The company had reported an operating profit of about Rs 1,531 crore for the January-March quarter after making a one-time accounting adjustment of Rs 1,660 crore related to licence fees.
The Norwegian company’s strategy is similar to its British rival Vodafone, which had bought out its minority shareholders in April.
Similarly, last month, Russia’s Sistema had sought FIPB approval to increase its stake in Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd beyond 74 per cent.
The Telecom Commission today approved full mobile number portability that enables subscribers to retain numbers when they relocate to any part of the country.
The commission also gave its approval to a revised strategy for a national optical fibre network.