Norway's Telenor to exit India, sells telecom business to Bharti Airtel

Posted On Friday, 24 February 2017 10:06

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NEW DELHI: Norway's Telenor group has decided to exit the Indian telecom market and sell its business to Bharti Airtel, signalling the growing pressures in the mobile industry following fierce competitive pressures after the entry of Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio.

Telenor has a customer base of 44 million, and has operations in seven circles - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam.

The agreement between the two companies happens at a time when Vodafone and Idea Cellular+ are also engaged in merger discussions to form the country's biggest mobile company.

Airtel said it has entered into a "definitive agreement" to acquire the Norwegian company's operations, and a final go-ahead will require regulatory approvals.

"The proposed acquisition will include transfer of all of Telenor India's assets and customers, further augmenting Airtel's overall customer base and network. It will also enable Airtel to further bolster its strong spectrum foot-print in these seven circles, with the addition of 43.4 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band," the country's largest mobile operator said.

Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said that when completed, the acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen the company's market position in several key circles. "The customers of Telenor India will now be able to enjoy India's widest and fastest voice & data network, and a range of Airtel's world-class products and services."

Sigve Brekke, CEO of the Telenor Group, said that the decision to exit India has "not been taken lightly". "After thorough consideration, it is our view that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India's future business on a standalone basis will not give an acceptable level of return."

He said that the deal with Airtel will be in the best interest of our customers, employees and Telenor Group. "Finding a long-term solution to our India business has been a priority for us, and we are pleased with our agreement." The transaction is expected to close within 12 months. Telenor had announced its entry into India in 2008.

News source: The Times of India

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