Unitech Wireless, Telenor

Update: Do read our coverage of the Telenor Investment call for India, where the company said they’re not very keen on 3G Auctions. More inputs on targets, spectrum allocation, and fund-raising to finance this deal. All that and more here.

Norwegian telcom operator Telenor has reached an agreement to pick up 60 percent stake in Unitech Wireless for $1.07 Billion. Unitech Wireless plans to roll out services in mid 2009. The company currently has around 250 employees. Unitech Wireless plans a fresh issue of shares for allotment to Telenor. Earlier last month, there were reports of Telecom Italia picking up stake in Unitech, which the Italian operator had subsequently denied.

In Asia, Telenor already has operations in Pakistan (Telenor Pakistan), Bangladesh (Grameenphone), Malaysia (DiGi) and Thailand (dtac).

Telenor To Raise Funds To Finance The Deal
The initial equity injection in Unitech Wireless will be made by Telenor Asia Pte. Ltd. in four tranches to be completed before the end of September 2009. Telenor will raise around NOK 12 Billion (around $1.786 Billion / Rs. 8860 crores) in funds through a rights issue in the first quarter of 2009. The Norwegian Government has stated its willingness to participate in this rights issue.

This fund-raising, and its timing, is very interesting, given that the 3G auction has been pushed to the end of January. More so, if it gets pushed any further, the auctions may get stalled due to elections in India. An industry insider had once told me, don’t expect the auctions with A.Raja as the Telecom Minister. That might just be the case.

Valuation: $1.783 Billion
Unitech Wireless has licenses for all 22 circles in India, and a 60 percent sale is certainly a significant majority sale. The company paid a meagre Rs. 1650 crores (around $332.78 million at current rates) for the license, and based on this stake sale, it is now valued at around $1.783 Billion. Update: According to Telenor, Unitech Wireless “has an enterprise value of $1.1 Billion.” More here.

Government Approval
The deal will require government approval, and might hit a roadblock because of Telenors other investments – particularly in Telenor Pakistan and Bangladesh’s Grameenphone – where there may be security concerns.

Other New Telcos:
Swan Telecom sold 51 percent stake to Etisalat
— Loop Telecom, a sister concern of BPL Mobile is yet to close funding, though BPL has raised money.
— Shyam Telelink has sold 49 percent stake to Russian conglomerate Sistema. Sistema intends to increase stake.
More here.

Related:
Telecom Italia Denies Report On Unitech Wireless Deal
Etisalat Gets 45% In Swan Tele For $900 Million