Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor said Thursday it was leaving the Indian telecom market and transferring its businesses there to Bharti Airtel.
Bharti Airtel, India’s largest wireless operator, with 269 million subscribers, would add Telenor’s 44 million subscribers, employees and licenses to its business.
Telenor entered the Indian market in 2008, but has struggled amid tough competition.
Telenor chief executive Sigve Brekke said in a statement that the company had concluded “that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India’s future business on a stand-alone basis would not have given an acceptable level of return.”
The non-cash transaction would not result in further writedowns, Telenor said. Its assets in India were estimated to be worth 300 million kroner (36 million dollars) in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The deal, which hinged on regulatory approvals in India, was expected to take 12 months to close.
In addition to Norway and neighbouring Demark and Sweden, Telenor has operations in Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Serbia, Thailand and Ukraine.