HC modifies CLB order on Telenor-Unitech row

HC modifies CLB order on Telenor-Unitech row New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday modified a Company Law Board (CLB) order and allowed Uninor to receive till August 8 the expressions of interest (EoI) from bidders interested in purchasing the telecom major, a joint venture of Norwegian firm Telenor and Unitech Group.

The CLB, on August 3 had stayed the operation of Uninor's August 1 auction notice for sale of its assets, saying the proposed auction process appeared to be "very clever" one.

"I am modifying the order of the Company Law Board to the extent that the date to receive the EoI (i.E., the intention to purchase) from the bidders is extended till August 8," said Justice Indermeet Kaur adding that the CLB will decide the petition on merit.

The court's order came on a plea by Uninor against the CLB order which had stalled the auction of the telecom firm's assets on a plea by its Indian partner of the joint venture, Unitech Group.

During a 20 minute-long hearing, a battery of senior lawyers including Rajiv Nayar and Rakesh Tikku, appeared for Uninor and sought setting aside of the CLB's order by which the operation of Uninor's August 1 auction notice for sale of its assets had been stayed.

"A grave prejudice would be caused if the order of the CLB is not stayed. We (Uninor) have adopted the most transparent process in initiating the process of sale of the assets," Nayar said.

The court then said, "Let the auction process continue and it would be clarified (in the order) that nothing will be confirmed till the CLB finally decides the matter."

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for Unitech, a minority partner in joint venture firm Uninor, objected to the suggestion saying "we do not want this company to be sold. It is a running company and we want to keep it.

"It is not only Uninor, 122 2G spectrum licenses, alloted to various others, have also been cancelled by the Supreme Court. Even if, Uninor does not get the 2G licenses in the fresh auctioning.. Other firms, who will get them, will have to install towers and other things."

Disposing of the plea of Uninor, the court modified the CLB order saying the JV firm will be able to receive EoI (Expression of Interest from potential bidders) till August 8 instead of August 6, as provided in the auction notice of the telecom major.

The CLB, in an interim order, had stayed the notice of Uninor's planned auction of its assets and fixed the matter for hearing on August 8.

Unitech, which holds 32.75 percent stake in Unitech

Wireless that operates under the Uninor brand, had sought stopping of the sale fearing Telenor, Norwegian firm, may be the only bidder in the auction.

Uninor had on August 1 invited potential bidders to express interest by August 6 and said its majority owner, Norway's Telenor, was willing to pay Rs 4,190 crore for its 30 million customers and assets in case no other bidder turns up.

Unitech and its MNC JV partner in Uninor are at loggerhead following the cancellation of 2G liceneses by the Supreme Court.

Unitech, which holds 32.75 percent stake in Unitech Wireless that operates under the Uninor brand, had sought stopping of the sale fearing Telenor, Norwegian firm, may be the only bidder in the auction.

Uninor had on August 1 invited potential bidders to express interest by August 6 and said its majority owner, Norway's Telenor, was willing to pay Rs 4,190 crore for its 30 million customers and assets in case no other bidder turns up.

Unitech and its MNC JV partner in Uninor are at loggerhead following the cancellation of 2G liceneses by the Supreme Court.

PTI