Telenor says to invest $3.2 bln in India venture


Chief Executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas. Photo: Telenor.

OSLO, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Norway’s Telenor ASA (TEL.OL) plans to launch mobile services in India in the third quarter and will invest 22 billion crowns ($3.2 billion) in the venture until its expected operational breakeven in five years.

“For us this is a long-term project. The low penetration factor in India attracts us,” Chief Executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas told a news conference.

Telenor said it would inject 8.7 billion crowns in new equity into India’s Unitech Wireless in 2009, raising its stake to between 54.3 and 60 percent in the third quarter. Unitech Wireless is part of realty group Unitech (UNTE.BO).

Shares in Telenor were off 0.1 percent at 42.65 crowns at 1316 GMT, lagging a 2.3 percent rise on the DJ Stoxx Telecom Index .OSEBX.

Telenor’s management have decided to pursue expansion into India despite criticism from some shareholders, who had already forced the Norwegian company to scrap plans to finance the venture through a share issue.

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