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Telenor must continue JV to stay in India, rules court

Telenor has been told that it may only bid for spectrum in India as part of its Uninor JV

A court in India has ruled that Norwegian operator group Telenor may only bid for spectrum in the country’s upcoming 2G auction if it does so as part of its joint venture with Indian real estate firm Unitech. The auction is now set to be held in January 2013, after the Supreme Court of India granted the government another deadline extension.

The operator has sought to cut ties with its Indian partner, after losing the 2G licences it won in the country’s 2008 spectrum auction.

However, the District Court of Gurgaon, has now upheld an injunction from Unitech to prevent Telenor from “participating, negotiating, engaging in or financially being interested in the auction processes conducted by the government/government agencies for fresh allotment of licenses/spectrum, other than through respondent no.1 (Unitech Wireless)”.

Tor Odland, VP for group communications at Telenor, told Telecoms.com that the operator is appealing the decision.

“There’s a hearing set for September and we aim to continue arguing our case,” he said.

“Our objective remains to potentially bid with a new company, and as such, we deem the partnership with Unitech to be over. We are currently scanning the market for potential partners.”

Telenor had already invited interested parties to bid for assets owned by the JV, called Uninor, of which the operator owns 67 per cent, but Odland said that it is awaiting a final decision from the courts as to whether it will be able to.

“There has been no decision on that – it’s a matter that has been challenged by Unitech.”

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