Norwegian telecom carrier Telenor ASA, is in talks with Tata Teleservices to merge their Indian operations and create the country's fourth-largest mobile operator by users, Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing three people with direct knowledge of the matter.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile phone operator, which owns a 26-per cent stake in Tata Teleservices, is likely to remain a shareholder in the merged entity, the report said, and added that any deal will depend on new takeover rules currently being considered by India's telecom regulator.
"We are going to maintain our stake for the time being, said Junpei Toya, a spokesman for Tokyo-based NTT DoCoMo told Bloomberg and refused to comment on the merger talks between Tata Teleservices and Telenor.
A merger between the two mobile operators would create India's fourth-largest operator after Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Reliance Communication.
Teleonor entered India in 2009 and formed a joint venture with Unitech, a New Delhi-based real estate developer. Its spectrum licence was withdrawn in September after the Supreme Court in Februaury this year ordered the cancellation of all 122 licences granted after January 2008 for operating 2G mobile services in India, saying they were granted in an arbitrary and unconstitutional manner (See: SC cancels all 2G licences, orders fresh spectrum auction).
In the latest round of 2G mobile spectrum auction, Telenor won spectrum licenses in six states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh west, Uttar Pradesh east and Bihar.