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Asia

Ops Left Holding Cash

3:25 PM -- Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) has been left holding its cash as India's government again deferred a decision on whether the Norway-based operator could finalize its 67 percent shareholding in new mobile operator, Unitech Wireless. This is despite the government clearing 21 other foreign investment proposals.

Check out this report from India's Business Standard for more details.

Telenor already has a 49 percent share in Unitech, but upping it to 67 percent would take the foreign investment in Unitech to 74 percent, and therefore requires government approval. (See Telenor Nears Unitech Stake.)

However, the rubber stamp appears to have been lost by the Home Ministry, which considers national security issues amongst other things.

You might think that Norway's leading service provider can't be classed as a security threat or politically contentious, but Telenor's operations in Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, in Bangladesh with Grameenphone , may be behind the delay.

China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) is also being made to keep its wad in its pocket at least for the time being as Taiwan's telecom market remains closed to Chinese investors.

China Mobile agreed to buy a 12 percent share of Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. Ltd. , Taiwan's No. 3 mobile operator, for $530 million, knowing full well that the market was not open to it. But it believed that thawing relations across the straits would soon allow the deal. (See China Mobile Enters Taiwan.)

Yesterday Taiwan opened 100 sectors to Chinese investment but telecom wasn't amongst them. While it's no doubt frustrating for China Mobile, it doesn't mean the market will never open, and China Mobile is still hopeful that the deal will go ahead, according to this Bloomberg report.

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

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