Telenor India unit posts $806 mn loss on business hit by SC verdict

 IANS   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 8, 2012  | 16:49 IST

Telenor's India unit has reported an operating loss of 4.68 billion Norwegian kroner ($806 million) burdened by a huge impairment charge on its Indian operations owing to the prevailing uncertainty in the country's telecom sector.

The Norway-based firm also said it would be difficult to continue business in India if the telecom regulator's proposals on spectrum auction were accepted by the government.

The company had written off its remaining assets in India worth $680 million last month.

"The recent recommendation from the regulator on spectrum auction has severe negative impact on both the telecom industry in India and Uninor," Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and chief executive officer, Telenor Group said in a statement.

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"If this should be approved by the Department of Telecommunications, it will be almost impossible for us to participate in the auction. We are working actively to safeguard our investment and urge the government of India to clarify a sound framework for the industry," he added.

On February 2, the Supreme Court had ordered cancellation of 122 telecom licences issued in 2008 including 22 licences of Uninor - a joint venture between India's Unitech and Norway-based Telenor.

The apex court had also asked the government to re-distribute licences through auction.

Now the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has come up with its recommendations for the auction including a steep hike in the reserve price. This move has garnered staunch criticism from the telecom firms and analysts alike.

The firm had reported an operating loss of 1.25 billion NOK during the same period of the previous financial year.

The revenue of the firm stood at over 1 billion NOK during the quarter under review against 548 bllion NOK during the year ago period.

The number of mobile subscribers increased by 3.2 million during the quarter under review taking the total subscription base up to 31.5 million.

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