Telenor chairman quits over TV2 deal

OSLO Wed May 2, 2012 10:32am EDT

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OSLO (Reuters) - Telenor (TEL.OL) chairman Harald Norvik quit on Wednesday after the government, which owns 54 percent of the Norwegian group, withdrew support for him over the sale of TV2, the country's top commercial channel.

The resignation capped months of controversy since a company jointly owned by Telenor and labor unions sold its 50 percent stake in TV2 to Egmont for 2.1 billion Norwegian crowns ($367 million) in January, giving the Danish firm 100 percent control.

"The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Trond Giske, representing the majority shareholder in Telenor ASA, today expressed a lack of confidence in the chairman of Telenor, following the handling of the TV2 issue in January this year," Norvik said in a statement.

Giske, who did not have the power to block the TV2 deal, had previously expressed dismay that the channel would end up in foreign ownership and likened the sale to selling off family silver. He declined to comment on Wednesday.

Telenor has also drawn fire recently for its difficulties in India, a market it may be forced to exit after the government cancelled 122 licenses following a corruption-tainted sale.

Norvik said his decision to leave was not related to the firm's Indian troubles.

($1 = 5.7213 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting By Victoria Klesty; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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