Norwegian telecom giant Telenor said Monday it has written down its remaining assets in India worth $680 million owing to the “increased uncertainty” in the country’s telecom sector.
“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in February to cancel Uninor’s licenses and the recent recommendation from the TRAI regarding the 2G license re-auction, the uncertainty has increased significantly,” the company said in a statement.
“As a precautionary measure, Telenor ASA has decided to write down the remaining fixed and intangible assets in India amounting to NOK 3.9 billion (NOK 2.6 billion after non-controlling interests),” it added.
The Supreme Court Feb 2 ordered cancellation of 122 licenses, including 22 licenses of Uninor, a joint venture between India’s Unitech and Telenor. The apex court also asked the government to re-distribute the licenses through auction process.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recommendation for auction has now proposed a reserve price of Rs.3,622 crore per megahertz of spectrum at the pan-India level. This is around 10 times higher than the price for 2G licences in 2008.
The write down will be included in Telenor’s results for the first quarter 2012, to be presented on May 8, 2012.
The firm, which has been worst affected by the Supreme Court’s decision, has also said it would have to shut down its India business if the telecom regulator’s recommendation is approved by the government.
“If the recommendation from TRAI in its current form should be approved by the Department of Telecommunications, it will be almost impossible to participate in the auction for Telenor,” the statement said.
“Telenor is working actively towards Indian authorities to bring forward an acceptable framework for continued operations,” it added.
Last week Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Videocon and Uninor in a joint letter had urged Communications Minister Kapil Sibal not to accept TRAI’s recommendation or else the call tariffs would shoot up by 25-30 percent.