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Expat CEO fuels Telenor stake buy talk

Thursday, 9 January 2014 - 11:36am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Norwegian telecom firm Telenor has appointed in-house candidate Morten Karlsen Sorby (pictured) as CEO of its Indian arm Uninor. 

The appointment of Sorby, who in his last position served as executive vice-president for corporate strategy and regulatory affairs at Telenor, comes five months after the former CEO, Yogesh Malik, quit.

The appointment has fuelled talk that Telenor would go the Vodafone way and buy out its local partner to become a 100% foreign-holding telecom company in India.

The Indian partner Sudhir Valia, who holds a 26% stake in the Uninor venture through Lakshdeep Investments & Finance.

An analyst said, “The chances of Telenor going the Vodafone way looks likely after the new Telenor-based CEO appointment for Uninor, but another question is whether Telenor would be comfortable hiking its capital in India.”

So far, Telenor has invested almost Rs 16,000 crore in India.

“Uninor’s journey has just begun. We will continue to build on the company’s competitive spirit and innovation skills to capture new ground, both in basic services and by providing affordable internet services to the masses. I have actively contributed to the development of our India operations since we first entered in 2008, and now I look forward to joining the remarkable Uninor organisation.” said the new CEO.  Uninor has seen four heads in the last four years.

Vodafone’s plan to buy 100% stake in India unit is awaiting final approval from CCEA.

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