Telenor disputes massive Indian tax claim

Telenor headquarters, Bulgarian MPTelenor headquarters.Photo: Norway Today Media


Telenor disputes massive tax claim from India

Indian authorities demand NOK 775 million in additional taxes from Telenor. The Group contests the claim, according to Dagens Næringsliv.


In February 2017, Telenor entered into an agreement with Bharti Airtel to take over Telenor India. Airtel, which is India’s largest mobile company, has obtained 44 million customers from them, the newspaper writes.

Airtel obtained Telenor’s mobile frequencies, licenses, employees and customer base in India, as well as future obligations such as frequency payments and tower rentals. The agreement with Airtel was thus spelled the end to the Norwegian conglomerate’s involvement in India.

The involvement in the Indian market was no success and cost the company several billions. Many will also remember their involvement in the VimpelCom corruption scandal, which also cost the company a lot of money and prestige.

The Norwegian business is still showing a very healthy profit, not in the least from sub leasing to smaller telecoms companies. At present only Telia (formerly NetCom), and maintain their own infrastructure in Norway.

Contested claims

Presently Indian authorities require five telecommunications companies to pay more than NOK three billion in back taxes. The demand from the Norwegian company alone is for NOK 775 million.

The Indian Telecom Department (Dot) believes that the companies have underreported the revenues from their businesses in the country, according to the Indian news portal Oneindia.

Communications Manager in Telenor, Atle Lessum, emphasizes that they are well aware of the possible tax claim and that they do not share the view of the Indian authorities in the matter.

– The audit made for the years 2010-2015 includes all major operators in the market – including Telenor India. The claim is contested by the whole industry, and the case will probably be handled in the Indian judiciary. It’s difficult to say when a conclusion can be reached, Lessum writes in an email.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today