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Bangladeshi government confirms Telenor will retain licence

Scandinavian operator Telenor has received assurance that it will retain its operating licence covering Bangladesh – against the recommendation of a government commission.

The firm’s Bangladeshi subsidiary, Grameenphone, is the country’s largest operator. Telenor has been embroiled in legal action claiming that the 1996 licensing agreement that led to Grameenphone’s inception should be annulled.

The Bangladeshi finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has reportedly claimed that: “In no way will we suspend or cease its [Telenor’s] operation”, adding that he had yet to receive the final report from the commission. Grameenphone’s operating licence was in fact renewed last year by the Bangladeshi government after a lengthy delay.

The government commission claims that if Telenor is allowed to continue operations, it must relinquish 16% of its business going back to 2002. It stipulates that the government should then use this money for aid and welfare purposes.

Grameenphone is the Bangladeshi market leader with over 40 million subscribers. It is 56% owned by Telenor, and is the Scandinavian firm’s most profitable operation.

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