Telenor Reported to Be Having Indian Merger Talks with Tata Teleservices

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Norway's Telenor has declined to comment on rumours that it has held talks with India's Tata Teleservices to merge their Indian mobile networks.

Telenor is inheriting the Uninor assets from its previous Indian joint-venture and having won licenses in the recent GSM spectrum auction is now seeking an Indian partner. The company is required to have a local partner to stay within the 74% investment limit for foreign companies.

"Telenor Group never comments on rumors or speculation," a Telenor spokesman said in an e-mail.

Reports suggest that Telenor is seeking to merge the two networks and take a majority stake in the enlarged company, which would be the fifth largest in the country, by customer numbers.

This is the second time that the two companies have been reported to be in talks - after earlier talks were reported back in July which were said to be simply exploratory at the time due to the regulatory uncertainty that affected the entire industry.

The issue may be complicated as Japan's NTT DoCoMo currently owns 26% of Tata Teleservices and has a put-option allowing it to increase its stake in the company, or sell the stake entirely if agreed milestones are missed.

The reports however suggest that DoCoMo will retain its 26% stake in the company - which will presumably require a cash investment in the merger company to prevent its stake being diluted.

On the web: Reuters

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Tags: tata teleservices  telenor  India 

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