Telenor, the Norway based telecom giant, is in talks with Idea Cellular to sell Indian unit without an actual payout. Telenor India which has been struggling to perform with its limited spectrum holdings in just six circles is looking for a potential buyer to take over its liabilities.Incidentally, Idea Cellular is the third largest mobile network operator in India promoted by Aditya Birla Group.
Struggling to Pay off Debt:
As per the recent report published by The Economic Times, the two companies have held bilateral discussions for the transfer of assets and liabilities without an actual payout. Telenor owes close to ₹1900 crore to Indian government for delayed payments in spectrum and about ₹1800 crore to various financial institutions as debt.
In the beginning of the year 2016, Telenor India was valued ₹5000 crore and now it has come down to ₹4000 crore. Signalling its exit, Telenor India didn’t even participate in the recently concluded 4G spectrum auction.
Telenor India has 1800MHz Band 3 presence in 7 telecom circle areas in the country including Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, Uttar Pradesh (East) and, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Uttarakhand. However, the company has not launched its commercial services yet in Assam. Incidentally, Idea Cellular holds first or second position in most of these telecom circles.
Will Telenor Succeed or Not?
With differences over valuation, Telenor India couldn’t progress its merger deal with British Vodafone Group. Interestingly, the current deal with Idea Cellular might not succeed as the teleco has already had a debt of over ₹36000 crore including ₹13,000 crore spent for securing additional spectrum in the recently concluded October auction. With the entry of Reliance Jio, the telecom companies are facing stiff competition as their earnings dip and are ramped up to retain their subscribers.