Telenor chief avoids commenting on merger talk with India's Tata Tele
The chief executive of Norwegian telecom firm Telenor, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, on Thursday dodged all questions on rumours linked to merger talks with India's Tata Tele.
Baksaas said the main focus is on breaking even by the end of 2013 in the six Indian telecommunication zones where it recently won back airwaves.
Baksaas said Telenor will focus its resources on its total investment goal of 155 billion Indian rupees on the six zones where it will operate after its all-India permits were revoked because they were awarded in an earlier corruption-tainted auction.
"We never comment on rumours and speculations. We have the spectrum for six circles that we have just acquired, that's what we are focussing on. I am very happy that my colleagues can look back to this process as a difficult period but also being fully energised on moving forward from here," said Baksaas.
Telenor, which has more than 150 million customers in Europe and Asia, will be left with about 30 million customers in India after scaling back its operations, it said in a statement earlier on Thursday.
Baksaas said the company, which said its northern zone of Uttar Pradesh East had broken even, aims to achieve break-even on an operating and cashflow basis in all its Indian zones by the end of 2013.
"We will focus our services in these six circles and these will be basic services and hopefully as competitive as they should be in order to make visibility and impact with our market. Then comes the question of geographical foot print, but also that of services because is considered also the part of the package in the years to come," Baksaas added.
Telenor, which agreed to enter India in 2008 by taking a majority stake in a nascent mobile phone operator, has struggled to make money in the crowded, highly-competitive market and had threatened to abandon India after the licence cancellation order, which the company said "unfairly harmed" it.
Telenor is moving its Indian business, which currently operates under the Uninor brand, into a new entity after it split from its former partner, Indian real estate firm Unitech Ltd. Telenor announced a new Indian partner last month.