Telenor to invest more in India – but won't hike Uninor stake

Norwegian telecom firm Telenor ASA on Sunday said it has no immediate plans to increase its stake in Indian joint venture Uninor, but 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 chief executive officer Jon Fredrik Baksaas told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in New Delhi.

Telenor holds a 67.3 per cent stake in the joint venture with Delhi-based 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.