Uninor says will take part in 2G auction
New Delhi, February 6
Even as Uninor, the joint venture telecom firm between Norwegian telecom company Telenor and Unitech, today launched diplomatic efforts to secure its investments in India after the Supreme Court last week cancelled 122 telecom licences issued by former Telecom Minister A Raja, the startup telecom operator said that it will participate in 2G spectrum auction.
The player, however, did not rule out option of an exit from Indian operations.
As Rigmor Aasrud, Norwegian minister of government administration, reform and church affairs, landed here to meet "stakeholders", including government functionaries, Uninor Managing Director and Telenor's Asia head Sigve Brekke said, "In principle we will go for auction but I am not saying that whether we will win everything ... So, the option of exit cannot be ruled out".
The Norwegian diplomatic efforts come in as the Norwegian government owns 53 per cent of share in Telenor and seeing the potential in the Indian market and the investments already made, the exit from the Indian market would only add to the losses of the Nordic region telecom company. As part of the Norwegian government efforts, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister and a UN special envoy on climate change, has separately broached the issue with Indian authorities.
As the telecom sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has started the process for the auction of the over 400 Mhz of 2G spectrum freed after the cancellation of the licences by the Apex Court last week, Brekke said the company would finalise its strategy only after looking at the base price and the reserve price for the spectrum.However, he expressed the company’s intention of staying on with the Indian operations. "We will be coming out with advertisement for our customers assuring that we are very much here," Brekke said.
"Uninor services are continuing. This means we will continue to serve our 36 million customers, work with our 22,000 partners and keep building our presence in the market.”
Uninor, one of the more successful of the startup telecom firms, is a joint venture between real estate major Unitech and Telenor of Norway. Telenor holds 67.25 per cent ownership share in the company and Uninor claims to have invested over Rs 14,000 crore in Indian operations where it has a subscriber base of nearly 40 million as of now.
Last week, the Apex Court, while cancelling 122 licences, had asked the government to seek fresh recommendations from TRAI to distribute licences and spectrum through auction and complete the process within four months.
As per the latest estimates, the government could well end up earning anywhere in the region of Rs 60,000 cr to 75,000 cr in the auction of the 2G airwaves. Asked whether the company would bid for all the circles, Brekke said, "At this time it is difficult to say whether we will bid or not or for how many circles. We have to see the base price first."
He was, however, of the view that the auction should be among the new operators like it was in 2008 and incumbent players, who already have spectrum, should not be allowed to participate.
Huge subscriber base, CLAIMS FIRM
z Uninor MD Sigve Brekke said the company would finalise its strategy only after looking at the base price and the reserve price for the spectrum.
z Uninor claims to have invested over `14,000 crore in Indian operations where it has a subscriber base of nearly 40 million as of now.
z Last week, the Apex Court, while cancelling 122 licences, had asked the government to seek fresh recommendations from TRAI to distribute licences and spectrum through auction
z As per the latest estimates, the government could well end up earning anywhere in the region of `60,000 cr to 75,000 cr in the auction of the 2G airwaves.