Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia has identified a “serious” buyer for its manufacturing plant in Chennai, a top Tamil Nadu government official said today.
“Nokia has been telling us that they have identified a very serious buyer, but due to their non-disclosure agreement they are not willing to give out their name,” Tamil Nadu Additional Chief Secretary C V Shankar told reporters here.
Nokia plant, near Chennai, had started operations in 2006, but was shut down in November last year.
Nokia, which sold its global devices and services business to Microsoft in April last year, left the manufacturing plant out of the deal due to ongoing tax issues faced by the Finnish firm in India.
“Essar Chief Ruia (Shashikant Ruia) was in Chennai and he also mentioned that he has looked at the plant but he has not committed saying yes or no. So we really do not know who the prospective buyer is,” Shankar added.
On the tax cases being faced by Nokia, he said it is an individual company’s case with the Income Tax department of government of India.
“Obviously the state government can not say yes or no to any of them at the particular issue in hand. Nokia has now come up with a proposal for defreezing the assets and selling it to some one outside the company and the money to be parked in an escrow account etc.
“We have said this is a good thing to happen and Prime Minister has made an statement in Rajya Sabha on this. So once it is opened then some other company can come. The employment would start,” he added. Shankar said it would be in everyone’s interest if the factory is started.
“To that extent going into the issue, merit of the case or otherwise, we would prefer that unit is open. GOI should take a call on this very quickly,” he said.
When asked if the Tamil Nadu government has not been supportive of the firm, Shankar said that government has always supportive of Nokia.
“In fact in 2012 we signed an MOU for an additional Rs 250 crore and the land at that time was given at below market price. State has been fully behind them.
“That has not been our attitude basically because of the employment otherwise what is the interest of a state government in a company like this,” he added.