Norway PM says will help Telenor in India if asked | india | Hindustan Times
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Norway PM says will help Telenor in India if asked

india Updated: Dec 21, 2010 18:40 IST

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the Norwegian government would intervene to assist Telenor if it asked for help to resolve a brewing scandal over mobile phone licences in India.

Indian authorities are mulling whether to cancel dozens of licences, including some held by Telenor, after an auditor found the state may have forfeited up to $39 billion when selling them on the cheap to local companies.

Telenor, 54% owned by the Norwegian state, bought its licence from Indian conglomerate Unitech in October 2008 and formed a joint venture that has launched operations in 13 Indian regions.

Telenor has denied any wrongdoing in the row, which has engulfed the Indian government in sleaze allegations.

Norway's government came to Telenor's aid when it faced dire legal problems in Russia in 2008-2009, by repeatedly visiting Moscow to discuss the case with top Kremlin officials.

"What we did in Russia was to make sure that ... the justice system and the authorities worked together as they should," Stoltenberg told Reuters on the sidelines of his semi-annual news conference.

"We could do that with Telenor in this case, if there is a need for it, as (we would) with any other Norwegian company that needs help, regardless of whether the state is an owner or not."

Stoltenberg said Telenor's India troubles were "not on the government's table at the moment". He added: "To my knowledge, there has been no contact between us and Telenor in this case."

When asked about potential corruption by Telenor in India, Stoltenberg said that according to Norwegian law, such issues were a matter for the company's board of directors to consider.