New Delhi: Norwegian telecom firm Telenor on Sunday said there are no immediate plans to increase its stake in Indian joint venture Uninor, but indicated the company will continue to make investments for increasing mobile penetration in the country.
“We don’t have immediate plans to increase stake in the Indian venture. However, we will continue investing in India to increase the mobile penetration here,” Telenor Group CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here today.
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Telenor holds a 67.3% stake in the joint venture with Indian real estate company Unitech Ltd.
The India venture added 2.5 million new mobile subscribers in October, Baksaas said.
The telecom venture, which offers services under the brand Uninor, has operations in 13 of India’s 22 telecom service areas.
At present, Uninor offers services in UP West (including Uttaranchal), UP East, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mumbai, West Bengal, Kolkata and Gujarat. It has about 13.5 million subscribers in India as of now.
Baksaas sees great potential in the Indian market, where mobile phone usage is growing at the fastest pace in the world.
He feels that real penetration of mobile services is very low in the country, especially in rural areas.
The rural market, Baksaas said, will be a key focus area for Uninor’s growth.
With regard to the ongoing investigation into whether Uninor has a valid licence for offering telecom services in the country, Baksaas said the probe relates to a period before Telenor made its entry into the country as a joint venture partner with Unitech.
“The company will cooperate with whatever kind of request the government investigator might have on this,” he said.