India allows Telenor to offset $302 mln against auction payments

NEW DELHI, March 7 Thu Mar 7, 2013 7:36am EST

NEW DELHI, March 7 (Reuters) - India will allow Telenor ASA to offset 16.58 billion rupees ($302 million) paid for its previous permits against the cost of the airwaves it bought in a recent auction, a government official said on Thursday.

Telenor won back airwaves in six of India's 22 zones in an auction last November for $733 million, after its earlier permits were ordered to be revoked by India's Supreme Court as part of a broader ruling in a licensing scandal.

The government had earlier allowed other carriers to offset their previous licence fee against the new auction payments. But Telenor had not been allowed to do so as it bid in the auction through a new unit, different from the one that had paid the earlier fees.

"It was a just technical issue, only because the legal entities were different," the official said, adding a ministerial panel on Wednesday decided to allow Telenor the offset.

Telenor paid a third of the new auction costs in December, and is to pay the remainder in instalments starting after a two-year moratorium. The company will be allowed the $302 million offset against the remainder of the auction payments, the official said. ($1 = 54.7800 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Jijo Jacob)

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