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2G: Foreign telcos for review of SC order

Last updated on: February 03, 2012 18:17 IST

Leading foreign telecom giants - Telenor of Norway and Sistema of Russia - on Friday asserted that they would take legal measures to protect their investments in Indian operations with one of them speaking of "alternative" plans to quit India.

Telenor is a majority stakeholder in Uninor joint venture with Unitech and Sistema in Sistema-Shyam telecom that offers telecom services under MTS brand.

"Telenor Group wants to be clear that the Uninor operations are continuing. Our intention is to fight to protect our lawful investments in the country. We are looking to the government to arrive at a fair solution. We expect that the intention remains of bringing new competition to India," Telenor Group said in a statement.

Sistema claims to have pumped in over $2.5 billion (about Rs 12,500 crore) and Telenor has exposure of over Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) in Indian services.

Both Uninor's 22 and Sistema-Shyam's 21 licences have been cancelled as per yesterday's Supreme Court judgement.

Echoing similar sentiments, Russian conglomerate Sistema said in a statement that "it will contest this order by pursuing all available legal remedies. In the meantime, Indian operations will remain business as usual."

The company claims to have more than 15 million subscribers, employing over 3,500 employees.

When asked about quiting India, Telenor president and chief executive officer Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters, "That is one alternative on the table".

Telenor holds 67.25 per cent stake in Uninor while Sistema and the Russian government together have about 74 per cent ownership in the joint venture.

"The Norwegian government has announced that they are monitoring the situation and will actively contribute to find solutions to secure Telenor's investments and presence in India," Telenor added.

According to Trai, joint venture firm of the Norwegian company, Uninor had 36.30 million subscriber by end of December 2011.

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