Telenor Seeks $13.8 Bln Payback Over India Licenses

Norwegian telecom giant Telenor plans to seek a 700 billion rupees ($13.8 billion) compensation from the Indian government after it scrapped the company’s mobile phone licenses, Norway’s The Local news website reported on Tuesday.

The Indian Supreme Court scrapped 122 telecom permits in February, including 22 held by Telenor’s majority-owned Indian unit, Unitech Wireless, claiming that the 2008 licensing process was underpriced and rigged.

The license sales sparked off one of India’s biggest corruption scandals, with former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja charged for mis-selling the permits and favoring of some firms, costing the country’s treasury up to $39 billion.

Telenor previously said it was considering all legal options to resolve the issue.

Telenor paid $1.1 billion for its stake in the Indian mobile firm when it entered the country in 2009. Other foreign investors whose licenses were cancelled include Gulf-based Etisalat and Sistema, one of Russia’s largest diversified holding companies.

The licenses will be officially revoked this June and the Indian government will conduct new auctions for the permits. The companies whose licenses were scrapped will also have a right to bid.


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