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Telenor Seeks To Raise Shareholding To 100%

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With stability coming to Indian telecom policy, global operators are looking to consolidate their holdings in the Indian ventures. After Vodafone and Sistema, it is now the turn of Norway-based Telenor has sought full control of its mobile operations in India. The Telenor group which operates mobile services under the Uninor brand has filed an application with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to acquire a 100 per cent stake in Telewings Communications Pvt Ltd.
Telenor currently has a 74 per cent stake in Telewings while the balance 26 per cent is held by Lakshdeep Investments & Finance Pvt Ltd, a financial investment company controlled by Sun Pharmaceuticals’ executive director, Sudhir Valia. The Telenor group stated that it plans to invest an additional Rs 780 crore to acquire the 100 per cent stake.

A company statement said: "Continuing its long term commitment to India, Telenor Group has filed to take complete ownership of the Indian business unit.” Telewings has participated in two separate spectrum auctions to acquire spectrum ranging from 5MHz to 7.2 MHz in seven circles that together represent more than half of India’s population. In the November 2012 auction, Telewings won spectrum in six circles—Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh East and Uttar Pradesh West. In the January 2014 auction of 1800MHz band spectrum, the company acquired 5MHz in Assam, where services are yet to start.

The company has 35 million mobile subscribers across the six circles. During this year, Uninor has announced an additional investment of Rs. 500 crore towards expansion of its network & distribution infrastructure by 30 per cent. Other telecom companies including AT&T, Vodafone and MTS India have also sought to increase their holdings in their respective Indian venture after the Government allowed 100% FDI in telecom.