Telenor to exit India, sells business to Bharti Airtel
Telenor ASA and Bharti Airtel, India, have entered into an agreement by which Airtel will take full ownership of Telenor India.
Telenor started its operations in India in 2008 and by 2016, its revenue was reported to be NOK 6 billion. Its services are available in six circles in India and it has a customer base of 44 million. Airtel is India’s largest wireless operator with about 270 million subscribers. It provides services such as 2G, 3G, 4G, fixed line, DTH, and broadband.
Under the agreement, Telenor will first merge with Airtel. The transaction is expected to be closed within a period of 12 months, after which Airtel will fully take over Telenor India’s spectrum, licenses, and operations, including its employees and customer base, outstanding spectrum payments and other operational contracts. Until then, Telenor will normally continue its operations in India.
Sigve Brekke, Chief Executive Officer of Telenor Group, said, “We believe today’s agreement is in the best interest of our customers, employees and Telenor Group. Finding a long term solution to our India business has been a priority for us, and we are pleased with our agreement with Airtel. The decision to exit India has not been taken lightly. After thorough consideration, it is our view that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India’s future business on a standalone basis would not have given an acceptable level of return,”
Gopal Vittal, Managing Director, and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, says, “The agreement underlines our commitment to lead India’s digital revolution by offering world-class and affordable telecom services through a robust spectrum portfolio spread across multiple bands. On completion, the proposed acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position considerably in several key circles. The customers of Telenor India will be able to enjoy India’s widest and fastest voice & data network, and a range of Airtel’s world-class products and services.”
The transaction is subjected to regulatory approvals from the Department of Telecommunications in India (DoT) and the Competition Commission of India.
Telenor group is one of the world’s largest telecom service providers with 214 million customer base and NOK 131 billion revenue as of 2016. It operates in Scandinavia, Central Eastern Europe, and 6 countries of Asia including Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Thailand.