Telenor now begins talks with Bharti Airtel to sell India unit: Report

Norway-based Telenor has reportedly begun discussions with India’s leading telco, Bharti Airtel, to sell its Indian unit for around $350 million. The latest acquisition talks come a few days after a report which said that Telenor held similar discussions with India’s third largest telecom operator, Idea Cellular.


According to ET Now, Bharti Airtel is discussing a possibility to take over half Telenor India’s liabilities, while the remainder will be borne by the Norway-based telecom operator. The report also added that the deal is in advanced stages, and it is expected to be closed by January-end.

Telenor has been struggling to grow its presence due to limited spectrum holdings and presence in just 7 circles. It currently offers 2G services in six – Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East and West, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It has spectrum in Assam, but it is yet to start services commercially.

The GSM telecom operator has been looking to exit the market by selling or merging its operations. In October this year, the telco refrained from participating in the spectrum auctions.

In December last year, an ET report said that Telenor was discussing a cash-less sale of its India unit with Idea Cellular. Under the talks, Idea Cellular was too looking at taking over all the liabilities of the Norwegian telecom operator’s local business.

However, there hasn’t been any update on talks with Idea Cellular.

Media reports say that Telenor India owes close to Rs 1,900 crore to the government in deferred spectrum payments and about Rs 1,800 crore to financial institutions as debt.

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21 Comments on "Telenor now begins talks with Bharti Airtel to sell India unit: Report"


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Mandar Sherbet
January 3, 2017 1:09 pm 1:09 PM

Just $350 million!! That’s less than Rs.2500 crores. Bharti Airtel definitely has some amazing bargaining skills. I am wondering why Tata Tele did not attempt to acquire Telenor’s India unit, especially if it’s available at such low valuation. Tata Tele paid about Rs.4000 crores to acquire 1 block of 1800 MHz spectrum in Mumbai & Maharashtra circles. Telenor India would have given them the same spectrum in 7 circles, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar & UP circles.

January 3, 2017 4:56 pm 4:56 PM

I agree with you.

I read it some where TTSL is interested to keep the telecom business. They have migrated all the Mumbai customers on the new spectrum already. They are in process to deploy 4G in mumbai by this summer.

Mandar Sherbet
January 5, 2017 9:04 am 9:04 AM

Tata DoCoMo is offering fairly good 3G coverage & speeds in Rest of Maharashtra & Goa circle. But lack of high speed Data network in Mumbai was hurting the company. I am still wondering how TTML is planning to use it’s 2.5 MHz Band 5 spectrum & 5 MHz Band 3 spectrum holding to ensure it’s 2G customers don’t suffer and the operator is also able to offer 3G/4G service.

January 4, 2017 12:37 pm 12:37 PM

They have migrated all the Mumbai customers on the new spectrum already. What do you mean by this?

January 6, 2017 10:54 am 10:54 AM

As far as i know they recently paid 4K cr as licence fee for Mumbai , some other metro’s as it was die to renewal. They were awarded new spectrum as well, 4.5Mhz i guess, they have migrated Mumbai user to this, please correct me if i am wrong.

January 3, 2017 12:07 pm 12:07 PM

Bad to see. But they cant survive in india with this competition. Jio has given the death blow.

[…] Telenor now begins talks with Bharti Airtel to sell India unit: Report […]

January 2, 2017 11:25 pm 11:25 PM

It’s good news..

January 2, 2017 10:38 pm 10:38 PM

this is fate of sabse sasta operator. No operator can survive by providing sasta offers . quality never come cheap

January 3, 2017 9:14 pm 9:14 PM

@JIO – this logic will apply to JIO … sooner or later.

“No operator can survive by providing sasta offers . quality never come cheap”

January 3, 2017 4:14 pm 4:14 PM


Shivang Singh (SS)
January 2, 2017 8:56 pm 8:56 PM

The debt level is low and takeover wouldn’t be a big deal for those with money. Currently, all operators including Jio would tend to be more cash conscious. Telenor will exit India but whether it will be Vodafone, Idea or Airtel, we will see.

January 2, 2017 8:44 pm 8:44 PM

Best decision taken by Telenor to sell off it’s unit to India’s Best Service Provider AIRTEL.

I don’t think Airtel needs it though.

Anyways I hope Telenor does not sell it’s unit to JIO or RELIANCE.

January 3, 2017 9:14 pm 9:14 PM

>> India’s Best Service Provider AIRTEL.

+ 1

January 3, 2017 3:38 pm 3:38 PM

Instead Reliance Jio will buy Each block of 700Mhz Pan India….Idea should buy it in my opinion

January 2, 2017 11:06 pm 11:06 PM

Its a tough sell. Jio doesn’t need Telenors spectrum. Reliance is itself merging. The only likely candidate is Vodafone or Docomo but it doesn’t look like the Tatas are speaking to telenor.


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