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Telenor seeks FIPB nod to increase Uninor stake to 100%; To invest Rs 780 crore

Norwegian telecom operator Telenor has sought for an approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board of India (FIPB) to increase its stake in Uninor to 100% from the existing 74% stake. The telco plans to invest Rs 780 crore to acquire the remaining 26% stake owned by its Indian partner Lakshdeep Investments & Finance Pvt. Ltd in the joint venture Telewings which provides telecom services in the country under the Uninor brand. This was quite an expected move considering that Telenor Group’s Asia head Sigve Brekke had earlier stated plans of increasing its Uninor stake to 100%, now that India allows 100% FDI in telecom. The telco had raised its stake in Telewings to 74% in December last year, after receiving the FIPB approval to increase its stake and invest up to Rs 1,000 crore in the JV in June 2013. Telenor had earlier partnered Lakshdeep Investments & Finance to create a new joint venture Telewings Communications in October 2012, after a bitter battle with previous Indian partner Unitech (A Telenor vs Unitech timeline here). The company had closed down operations in seven of thirteen operational telecom circles in 2012 and in Q1 2013, including the sudden shutdown of operations in the Mumbai circle. After quite a roller coaster 2012, Telenor Group mentioned that Uninor had reached cash flow break even at the end of 2013, on track with the telco’s plans.  In the February 2014 auctions, Uninor acquired spectrum in a new circle of Assam and additional spectrum in four of its six existing circles in the 1800 MHz band - UP East, UP West, Bihar & Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. Earlier this year, it also stated plans of investing Rs 500 crores to…

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