Idea Cellular says gets access to disputed regional permits of Spice Communications

Reuters Posted online: Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Idea Cellular Ltd, India's third largest telecom operator in India by customers and revenue, said the government has given it access to long-disputed permits in two service zones, helping its stock extend gains.

The telecommunication ministry transferred to Idea Cellular Ltd permits originally held by Spice Communications, which Idea had acquired in 2008. The ministry had imposed a 6 billion rupee ($95.71 million) fine on the company and stalled the permit transfer, saying Idea violated rules in the acquisition.

Idea Cellular said the permit transfer would help it launch 3G services in Punjab, where it bought airwaves for the services in 2010, but has yet to offer the services.

The permit transfer is subject to the outcome of Idea Cellular's plea at a telecoms tribunal challenging the government penalty, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Idea Cellular shares closed 7.9 percent higher, having risen as much as 9.2 percent during the session. Among the listed Indian telecoms carriers, shares in Idea have fallen the most since mid-January over concerns of fierce bidding in a telecoms airwave auction.