Norway’s Telenor ‘not dead yet’ in India market

Norwegian phone giant Telenor said on Monday it was examining all legal means to keep operating in India following a court order cancelling its mobile licences, declaring "we're not dead yet".

Norway's Telenor 'not dead yet' in India market
Sigve Brekke/Telenor

India's Supreme Court late last week scrapped 122 telecom permits, including 22 held by Telenor's majority-owned Indian unit, Unitech Wireless, on grounds the 2008 licensing process was underpriced and rigged.

"We came to India to win — we came here to stay," Sigve Brekke, head of Telenor's Asian operations, told reporters in Indian capital New Delhi.

"We're not dead yet," he said, but he added he was "angry and upset because it is very clear that we (Telenor) have been unfairly harmed".

At the same time, he did not rule out the possibility that Telenor, which has some 40 million Indian customers, might have to exit the country.

Brekke said the Oslo-based company was "considering all legal options" to resolve the problems embroiling its 67-percent-owned cellular arm, including filing a petition in the Supreme Court to review the ruling.

The licensing sales are at the heart of one of India's biggest corruption scandals in which former telecom minister A. Raja is alleged to have mis-sold the licences and favoured some firms, costing the treasury up to $39 billion.

Norwegian state-backed Telenor is also holding talks with India's telecom regulator and the Indian government to decide the way forward, Brekke said.

The order cancelling the licences takes effect in four months after which new auctions are to be held to re-allocate the permits.

"It's difficult to say whether we will bid," Brekke said. "We have to see the base price first."

Telenor, the second-largest foreign investor in the country's flagship telecom sector after Britain's Vodafone, entered India's telecom market in 2009, paying $1.1 billion for its stake in Indian mobile firm Uninor.

It partnered with Indian property developer Unitech, one of a number of Indian firms with no telecom experience that bought licences in 2008 and later sold stakes in their new cellular firms to foreign investors for hefty sums.

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Found out what’s going on in Norway on Tuesday with the Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
The northern lights in Tromsø. Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

One in ten international students in Norway has had Covid-19

Ten percent of overseas students studying in Norway, compared to just 2.9 percent of Norwegian students, have had Covid-19, according to the Students Health and Well Being Survey (SHoT).

Some 62,000 thousand of Norway’s 300,000 students responded to the survey.

READ MORE: Are Norway’s Covid-19 numbers on track for reopening?

Overall, nearly three percent said that they been infected with the Coronavirus, just over half have had to self isolate, and 70 percent took tests.

Woman in her 40’s charged with murder

A woman has been charged with murder in Halden, southeast Norway after a body was found in an apartment in the towns centre.

She will be questioned on Tuesday. A public defender has been appointed. 

Six police cars attended the scene at a small housing association in the centre of Halden.

A person found in the same apartment is being questioned as a witness.

Network provider Telenor’s revenues down 2.1 billion kroner compared to last year

Telenor’s revenues are down 2.1 billion in the first quarter and the company has written of its 6.5 billion kroner investment in Myanmar following Februarys military coup.

The mobile network operator became one of the first foreign providers in the country and had gained a 35 percent market share.

However, the country’s new military regime shut down the mobile network on March 15th.

“In Myanmar, we are experiencing a confusing and uncertain situation. We are deeply concerned about the development in the country,” The company stated in its quarterly report.

Norway and Sweden in reindeer border dispute

Swedish Sami reindeer herders will appear in court this week in a case against the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The Swedish Sami herders believe they have exclusive rights to grazing areas across the Norwegian border because they have lived in the surrounding area for hundreds of years. The Norwegian government rejects these claims.

The reindeer grazing convention will be central to the case; the convention facilitates mutual cross-border grazing for reindeer herds.

Sweden withdrew from the convention in 2005. However, Norway enshrined the convention in law in 2005.

483 Coronavirus infections recorded

On Monday, 483 new cases of Covid-29 were registered, an increase of 75 compared to the average of the previous week.

READ ALSO: Norway considers lifting measures for people who have had their first Covid vaccine 

This is down from 1150 cases registered during the peak of Norway’s third wave on March 16th.

This is partly because fewer infections are registered during weekends and public holidays, causing an uptick on Mondays.