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    Default Telenor looking for new India partner

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    Norwegian Telenor Group, which holds 67.25 per cent stake in Uninor, Friday said it is in discussion with four to five domestic institutions to find a new partner to continue its telecom services in India.

    Telenor has earlier announced its plans to set up a new company for its operations in the country, after India's Supreme Court quashed 22 licences held by Uninor, a joint venture with realty firm Unitech.

    "We are talking to four to five institutions for partnership. We had a meeting with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (for permission)," Uninor Managing Director Sigve Brekke said.

    "We will disclose the name of the new partner in the middle of the case… we have time to rope in a new partner," Brekke said.

    The Supreme Court in the order had set a date of June 2 for cancelling the 122 licences issued during the regime of former Telecom Minister A Raja and had asked the government to conduct a fresh spectrum auction.

    Telenor is hopeful that the date of spectrum auction and cancellation of license will be aligned.

    The company is also planning to participate in the fresh auction with the new partner after severing its joint venture with Unitech.

    On the company's plan to continue business in India beyond June 2, Brekke said: "Two weeks ago the Norwegian prime minister met with Dr. Singh (Prime Minister of India) and also the finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee). Soon a solution will be found."

    Around 14,000 employees of Uninor earlier have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, requesting an extension of the company's operations till fresh auctions are held.

    Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske, in his meeting with Mukherjee, backed Telenor's demand that the auction be held by June.

    The company had invested about $3 billion in India.



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