I shouldn't gloat. But just recently Telenor bought 60% of Unicom Wireless for a staggering $1.07 billion. This is more astonishing considering Unicom only paid $337 million for the India-wide mobile license earlier this year. Initial estimates are that they have to spend an additional $3 billion in the next three years to compete in a market that already has Virgin, Vodafone, Reliance, Tata and Airtel. Telenor investors didn't really digest this news really well, and the stock tanked 26%.
So Telenor needs $1.07 billion fast. I wrote couple months back that $300 million of the Bangladeshi IPO would be used for not-in-Bangladesh ventures. Since that was delayed to March 2009, a new Bangladeshi bond project worth $60 million in in the works. Newspapers did not connect the dots, but its safe to assume that the $60 million will be used to finance the Indian venture and not any Bangladeshi projects. Furthermore this $60 million bond is to be offered to private institutional investors. The same investors that Grameenphone decided to eliminate and provoke with GP's weird mobile-phone banking proposal. But then again Bangladeshis are highly skeptical of anything that involves India. Now its a double whammy -India and Grameenphone.
But $60 million from Bangladesh isn't going to cut it even if it is successful. Telenor is planning yet another IPO (or share sale to be specific) only this time in Norway. And only this time they 'plan' to raise $1.78 billion from the Norwegian market in the midst of their stock taking a dive and the entire world also taking a dive. It wouldn't surprise me if Telenor decided to hold multiple IPOs worldwide and slash the targets as time passes.
And this is the worst it could get right? Wrong.
Just recently, Russia decided to freeze (not literally as Telenor first assumed) all of Telenor's shares in Vimpelcom (the second largest mobile phone company there). Why? Because only this time instead of Yunus, Telenor has Mikhail Fridman as a partner. To make matters difficult Fridman is not aware what a Nobel Prize is or that he has been nominated for one multiple times. This is one Russian gangster who is too rich to pay off and doesn't make empty threats on Norwegian TV. Instead he works his magic and the next day Telenor has its shares frozen. And this is only his first baby step.
And this time, it is Telenor whining and making empty threats to Fridman.