Telenor in Talks with Bharti Airtel to Sell India Business for $350 Million
The Norway-based telecom giant Telenor is in talks with India’s number one telecom operator Bharti Airtel to sell its Indian businesses for $350 million. As per the reports, Bharti Airtel will take over half of Telenor India’s liabilities and whereas the remaining half would be borne by the parent company.
Now Bharti Airtel Looking for Telenor India:
If the reports are to be believed, the deal would be closed by this month-end. Thanks to the entry of Reliance Jio, the telecom map of India has undergone several changes. With limited spectrum holdings, Telenor India has been pushed to specific areas and thus the company is looking for a safe exit India.
With demonetisation, when the country is transforming its economy into a cashless society, the larger telecom carriers are expanding 4G services on a war footing basis. Incidentally, Telenor India didn’t participate in spectrum auctions held in October 2016 and is not ready to expand operations.
Though Telenor holds 1800MHz Band 3 spectrum airwaves in seven circles, it has limited its services to six circles only. The telecom service provider is yet to start it’s commercial operations in Assam. Currently, Telenor India operates in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Goa, Uttar Pradesh (East) and, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Uttarakhand telecom circles.
Will Telenor Succeed or Not?
A fortnight ago, we reported that Telenor India is in talks with Idea Cellular for a cashless sale without an actual payout. Telenor owes close to ₹1900 crore to the Indian government for delayed payments in the spectrum and about ₹1800 crore to various financial institutions as debt.
With 53 million subscribers, Telenor India is known to offer low-cost voice and data services in all its telecom circles. The company has a 4G presence in 27 towns and has plans to expand its high-speed data services in 10 more towns in coming weeks.
If I’m not wrong Telenor - Unitech merger was valued at $375 million. Back in the year 2009, Telenor bought 49% stake in Unitech Wireless (the telecom arm of a realty firm Unitech). In a year or so, it raised its stake to over 60%.
Though the Joint Venture license was canceled by the Apex court in India in 2012, it remained in the Indian market. However, after the exit of Unitech, Telenor has got 100% control on the businesses. Then, the company rebranded itself from Uninor to Telenor. Wait and watch for the next part of the story.