Chennai: Telecom operator Uninor, whose licences figure among the 122 cancelled by the Supreme Court last month, on Saturday said it is "hoping to make a fresh start with a new partner".

Uninor is a joint venture between Norwegian Telenor and realty major Unitech. The Norwegian government holds the majority stake in Telenor.

"We are not even thinking about what our partner (Unitech) did. This is now in the court. In the meantime, we want to have a fresh start. And the fresh start is with a new company and with a new partner," Uninor Managing Director Sigve Brekke told reporters here.

 "(To identify a new partner) we have gone out and got some interested parties," he said, adding, "We are in good dialogue with them. At the same time, we are in the process of starting a company and we have already filed a FIBP (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) application."

To a query on its future plans, Brekke said first the company has to find a solution with the current partner and then identify a new partner.

"There are two-three things that need to come. One, we have to find a solution with the current partner, and that needs to happen before going into new licence. After that solution is found, we need a new partner to come in. After that is done, the third step is to transfer assets from the old company into the new company," he said.

The joint venture partners have been fighting a legal battle over the control of Uninor. Unitech has already approached the Company Law Board seeking arbitration in the dispute.

 Brekke, who also heads the Telenor (Asia operations), said the company intends to have a long-term presence in whichever country it operates. Telenor is a long-term player in Bangladesh and Thailand, he said.

He further said the company has so far invested about Rs 15,000 crore in India.

Asked about how many customers have Uninor has lost in the wake of the Supreme Court cancelling its licenses, he said it was below the "industry average".
"Industry average is about 20 to 25 per cent. On yearly basis, we are slightly below the industry average...," he said.

Brekke claimed in February that the company rose to second position in Tamil Nadu circle as it added 3.21 lakh customers after Aircel's 3.43 lakh.

In Tamil Nadu Uninor has about 3,500 retailers and has more than 19 lakh customers.