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Centre cleared joint venture investments, says Telenor

Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: Telenor on Monday distanced itself from the 2G spectrum scam and the naming of its joint venture (JV) partner Sanjay Chandra, managing director of Unitech, in the CBI charge sheet. The Norwegian telecom major said the CBI investigations covered the period prior to the Telenor Group's entry into India and that its investments in the JV with Unitech Wireless were cleared by the Government of India at each stage.

“When Telenor invested Rs. 6,120 crore for a 67.25 per cent ownership in Unitech Wireless, it was in a company that already had a genuine licence issued by the Indian government with all necessary approvals. These investments were cleared by the Government of India at each stage,” Telenor said in a statement. In 2008, Telenor joined hands with Unitech Wireless to provide telecom services under the brand name Uninor.

Defending its JV with Unitech, Telenor said: “The investment was made in the operating company and not to its promoters. This is the equity that has been used as working capital to fund the establishment of Uninor as a successful young mobile operator in India with over 2.1-crore subscribers now. It is Telenor Group's intention to fight for its rights and continue the operational progress that has been achieved in the Indian market.” Telenor said the CBI charge sheet had named Mr. Chandra as managing director of Unitech, besides naming Unitech Wireless for actions when it was a fully owned Unitech Company. “This was a period prior to the Telenor Group entering India. Unitech Wireless will argue its case in court, and we expect Mr. Chandra to do the same. Telenor fully supports these proceedings. Telenor has zero tolerance for corruption. If any malpractice has indeed occurred, those responsible must be brought to book.”

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