Telenor writes off rest of India mobile business

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11:50 CEST+02:00
Norwegian telecom giant Telenor on Monday wrote off the rest of its mobile business in India worth 3.9 billion kroner ($680 million) after New Delhi scrapped licences in a massive fraud probe.

It warned too that it could withdraw completely from India, one of the world's fastest growing telecom markets, in light of increased uncertainty since the mobile phone licences were scrapped.

Telenor said that "as a precautionary measure ... it has decided to write-down the remaining fixed and intangible assets in India.

"After the write-down, Telenor has no further accounting exposure related to India," it said, adding that the charge will be included in its first quarter results due for release on May 8th.

India's Supreme Court earlier this year cancelled second-generation (2G) mobile licences issued in 2008 to a host of companies with foreign partners on the grounds the sale was rigged, costing New Delhi $40 billion in lost revenues.

In 2009, Telenor acquired a 67.25 percent stake in Uninor which holds 22 of the 122 licences cancelled by the Supreme Court.

In February this year, Telenor took an initial charge of 4.2 billion kroner against its 2011 results to cover the cost of the cancelled licences.

Telenor said Monday that following the cancellation, "the uncertainty has increased significantly" as the Indian regulator worked on a new licence sale.

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If "the recommendation from (the regulator) in its current form should be approved (by the government) .... it will be almost impossible to participate in the auction," it said.

"Telenor is working actively towards Indian authorities to bring forward an acceptable framework for continued operations," it added.

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