Which is why it is unfortunate that the Sistema telecom licence cancellation has got entangled with ONGC Videsh Limiteds (OVL) request for tax concessions on its Russian investments. While OVL invested in Russia when there were no tax concessions for work in western Siberia, it found the much lower than anticipated recoveries meant it would make losses, especially given the high 35% mineral exploration tax and the 50% corporate taxhence the request for a 10-year tax holiday along with a waiver of the mineral exploration taxes. Not surprisingly, the Russians have brought up the issue of the Supreme Court cancelling Sistemas CDMA-mobile telecom licences. Sistemas argument is that it was not to know the licensing process was flawed and that the licences were valid ones issued by the government; it also argues, and validly, that while there may have been a great demandand therefore a high pricefor GSM licences, there were no takers for the CDMA licences Sistema applied for. To cap it all, Trai decided to arbitrarily recommend using the high prices from the 3G auction in 2010 as the base price for the 2G auction in 2012it came to a completely unviable R18,000 crore base price for 5 MHz of 1800 MHz spectrum and then said the CDMA spectrum would have a base price of 1.3 times this. The failure of the 2G GSM auctions showed just how flawed this principle wasand there wasnt even one bidder for CDMA spectrum. While the government cannot just give Sistema its licences back at the original price it paid, it needs to do some realistic pricing, and then work on a compromise with Sistema. Till then, ONGCs shareholders will have to keep their fingers crossed.