TMT
By 29 October, 2008

Unitech Ltd, one of India's largest real estate companies, has sold a 60% stake for Rs 6,210 crore in its telecom arm to Norway's Telenor. Unitech Wireless has licences to operate in all 22 telecom circles and has also received spectrum for six circles. The valuation of Unitech Wireless is higher than Swan Telecom, which last month sold a 45% stake at a valuation of $2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore). But Swan, which is promoted by Mumbai-based real estate and hospitality business group Dynamix Balwas (DB) Group, has licences only in 13 circles. Valuation of Unitech Wireless is Rs 11,620 crore.

Unitech has sold out a majority stake in its telecom arm, making Unitech Wireless one of the few telecom companies controlled by foriegn telcos. While Vodafone acquired Hutch in 2006, Aircel is controlled by Malaysian telco Maxis. The FDI limit in telcos is 74%.

There were several other in the race for a stake in Unitech Wireless, including Europe's Telecom Italia. Unitech has hired about 250 people for its telecom venture and plans to roll out services by April next year. The company plans to invest $3 billion in its telecom venture for next three years. It recently raised Rs 1,200 crore for its telecom venture from a syndicate of public sector banks led by Punjab National Bank and Canara Bank.

Telenor is majority owned by the government of Norway, which holds a 54% stake. Interestingly, earlier this month Government Pension Fund of Norway has decided to pump in close to $2 billion over the next two months in Indian equity and bond market. Telenor also operates in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Unitech was advised by UBS (financial advisor) and Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co (legal advisor) on the deal.

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