Telenor Group has appointed Morten Karlsen Sørby as the new Uninor CEO with immediate effect, subject to regulatory approvals.
He will be replacing Sigve Brekke who was serving as Uninor’s acting CEO for the past three months after the former CEO Yogesh Malik quit in November 2013 citing personal reasons. Telenor mentions that Brekke will now continue in his earlier role of Executive Vice President and Head of Telenor Group’s Asia Operations.
Prior to this appointment, Sørby was serving as the Executive Vice President of corporate strategy and regulatory affairs in Telenor Group for the past two and a half years. Before that he was the Executive Vice President and head of Telenor’s Norwegian and Nordic operations. Sørby had joined Telenor in 1993 and has been a member of Telenor Group’s executive management team since 2003.
Uninor Achieves Break-Even in 2013
Coinciding with this appointment, Telenor Group also mentions that Uninor has reached cash flow break even at the end of 2013, on track with the telco’s plans. Uninor had earlier achieved EBITDA break even in five of its six circles – UP (West) and Bihar, UP (East), Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and was looking to achieve break even in Maharashtra circle (which includes Goa) by end of 2013. It claims to currently have 26 million connections across these six circles.
Earlier this month, Telenor Group had increased its stake in Telewings, which provides telecom services in India under the Uninor brand, to 74% after receiving FIPB approval to increase its stake and invest up to Rs 1,000 crore in the JV in June 2013. With time, one can expect Telenor to increase its stake to 100%, given that India has now allowed 100% FDI in telecom.
Telenor group had set up Telewings after a bitter battle with its previous partner Unitech. It was among the few entities to participate in the 2G auctions in November 2012 and had secured 24 blocks of spectrum in six circles for a total of Rs 4,018.28 crore, which was the highest price per MHz a telco had paid in the auctions. The telco received these unified licenses last month.