Reacting sharply to its estranged Indian Unitech’s contention over the Department of Telecom's nod to auction its assets and the existing business, Telenor's Asia head Sigve Brekke said that the process does not require DoT approval.
“Though actual transfer of assets to a new company, post-auctions, would require the telecom department's consent," he said.
Last week Uninor, the joint venture between the two companies that provides mobile services in India, had announced that it will auction its existing business, including its assets. In case, it is not possible, it will liquidate the company as its licences will be cancelled on September 7.
The Norway based telecom giant is fighting with its Indian minority partner over corporate governance issues. It has already announced that it will participate in the bids with another Indian partner.
On Unitech approaching the Company Law Board (CLB) on the issue, Brekke said that "Telenor had submitted an expression of interest (EoI) jointly with an undisclosed Indian affiliate" to acquire the assets of its Indian arm, although he declined to confirm whether other companies had also done as much.
"Telenor, jointly with an Indian affiliate, has expressed an interest to acquire the assets of its Indian unit, but I cannot comment on whether other companies have also submitted EoIs since we are in the middle of the process," said Brekke, adding that he expected the auctioning of the JV's assets to be concluded by the month-end.
Unitech had moved the Company Law Board, seeking stay on auctioning or any other sale or transfer of assets of Unitech Wireless, its telecom joint venture with Norwegian giant Telenor.
Unitech said that asset transfer could not be made without the approval of the Department of Telecommunications. “It defies logic as to how any transfer of assets can take place in the absence of the DoT approval for transfer of licences which is the sine qua non of operation of those assets,” it said.
The quasi-judicial body is slated to take a final call on the auction of assets of Telenor's Indian arm on August 8.
On Monday, Delhi High Court had ruled that Unitech Wireless could seek interests from potential bidders for a planned auction of its assets after real estate firm Unitech - a minority stakeholder in Telenor's Indian arm had challenged the move and obtained a CLB stay order last week to stall the exercise.