Norway’s Telenor to buy back shares

The unit will gradually scale down operations in four of the 13 telecoms zones in India.

Written by Agencies | Oslo | Published: July 24, 2012 12:07:59 pm

Telenor,the Norwegian mobile phone operator with over 150 million subscribers across Europe and Asia,will buy back 3 percent of its shares worth around 4.7 billion crowns ($771.12 million),lifting its shareholder returns as profits rise.

Telenor,which has been struggling to overcome a major legal dispute in India,on Tuesday said it will buy back 46.8 million shares,which comes on top of its 7.9 billion crown dividend payout earlier this year.

The buyback will involve the government’s stake,maintaining state ownership at 54 percent.

Telenor reported a 32 percent rise in second-quarter operating profit,in line with expectations,as its Nordic operations continued to perform well and Asian units improved. It stuck to full-year guidance.

In India,where it is at risk of losing its license in the wake of an industry-wide corruption probe,Telenor continued to rapidly expand its customer base,even as it maintained it may be forced to abandoned the market.

Rules for the new licensing round will not be known until the end of August and Telenor has said it would exit India if the licence price exceeded its self-imposed cap.

The Indian unit cut its earnings before interest,taxes,depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) loss in the quarter to 625 million crowns from 965 million a year earlier and Telenor said it aimed to reduce future risk by making the firm self- financed quicker than it had initially planned.

For the full year,Telenor continues to expect group-wide revenue excluding India to rise in excess of 4 percent,in line with its guidance from three months ago,and still sees its EBITDA margin in the 35 to 36 percent range.

In the second quarter,the group’s operating profit rose 32 percent to 4.29 billion crowns,in line with expectations,on revenues that also met forecasts.

Telenor India unit says to scale down ops in some zones

Telenor’s Indian mobile phone unit will gradually scale down operations in four of the 13 telecoms zones where it is commercially active to focus resources on the remaining areas,the company said on Tuesday.

Telenor’s India unit is among eight carriers who are set to lose a total 122 zonal permits in September after a Supreme Court order to revoke all telecoms licences granted in a scandal-tainted 2008 sale.

The affected companies must bid in an auction to win back the permits. The rules and starting price of the auction are yet to be finalised.

With lack of clarity around the auctions continuing,the company is now forced to take stronger steps to ensure optimal fund utilisation,the unit,which operates under the Uninor brand name,said in a statement.

Our plan now is to enter the auctions with a very strong presence in these nine circles,auction rules permitting,Sigve Brekke,the unit’s managing director,said in the statement.

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