India clears Telenor to buy out Uninor

Dylan Bushell-Embling
05 Sep 2014

India's finance ministry has approved Telenor's request to be allowed to buy full control of its Indian mobile joint venture Uninor.

Telenor has been cleared to increase its stake in Telewings Communications – which operates under the Uninor brand name – to 100% from 74%.

Telenor plans to spend 780.8 million rupees ($12.9 million) for the stake, India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) said in a circular. The transaction will be conducted through Telenor subsidiary Telenor South Asia Investment.

The Indian government last year amended telecom laws to allow full foreign ownership of local telecom operators – up from the previous cap of 74% - but only with the approval of the FIPB.

Telenor applied to acquire full control of Uninor in June as part of a large investment in its Indian operations.

Approvals have been granted despite reports last month that India's home ministry is pressuring the rest of the government to reinstate the foreign ownership cap on national security grounds.

Telenor has mobile spectrum in seven of India's 22 telecom circles, covering nearly half of the population.

The FIPB notice also indicates that Japan's NTT Communications has secured approval to lift its stake in Indian data center and managed services provider Netmagic Solutions from 74% to 81.6%.

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