Unitech has accused Norway-based Telenor of taking advantage of the 2G scam to armtwist it to buy its shares in Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd (UWTNL), the joint venture company that runs mobile services under the Uninor brand.
“Telenor only wants to benefit from the circumstances and is armtwisting the minority partner,” a Unitech official did not want to be named, told HT. “It is acting with the ulterior motive of buying out the company at cheap valuation and bidding for licences with a new partner, completely ignoring o Indian laws and regulations.”
On Tuesday, Telenor had announced that it was forming a new company in India and planned to port the customers and employees of Unitech Wirelesss to the new entity.The company also said it would bid for 2G spectrum through the new company.
“Telenor has no legal standing to annul the JV arbitrarily and create a new company to bid for auctions,” the official said, adding Telenor could not transfer or sell Uninor’s assets without the consent of Unitech. The shareholders agreement cannot be terminated by either party unilaterally, he added.
On the other hand, Telenor claimed it had been cheated. “Unitech obtained 22 UAS licences in 2008 and secured Telenor Group’s investment... It was guaranteed that Unitech had not conducted itself in a manner which could prejudice the licences,” said Glenn Mandelid, director of communications, Telenor Group (Asia region).
“The SC verdict now makes it clear that these licenses were illegally obtained, and that the truth was misrepresented to the Telenor Group. Telenor is now simply pursuing its legal right to void the shareholders’ agreement on account of fraud and misrepresentation,” he said.
“Our focus is now on ensuring that... all of Uninor's assets, employees, customers and partners can be seamlessly transferred (into the new J-V).”
Unitech official claimed that Telenor had earlier armtwisted it in 2009 and managed to corner 6.75% more stake in the JV for no additional price by taking advantage of the bad market condition. Telenor has a 67.25% equity in UWTNL.