Norway’s Telenor has pledged that its fledging Indian mobile arm, Uninor, is on track to achieve its profitability targets – despite recent reports that the subsidiary is struggling in India’s tough mobile market. Speaking at a presentation to analysts and investors this week, Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas said that the firm intended to “develop Uninor in India according to plan” and aimed to “continue to deliver growth above peers.” According to a Reuters report, Telenor reaffirmed that its India operations would breakeven in terms of EBITDA three years after its launch in late 2009, while breakeven on an operating cash flow level would come five years after launch. At a group level, the operator added that it had identified “significant” potential to improve its operational efficiency and initiated programmes to boost margins across all its international business units. It is aiming to reduce its operating expenditure to 35 percent of sales by 2013 from 39 percent in 2009, with capex reduced to 10 percent of sales by 2013, from 13 percent last year.

Telenor’s pledge of support for its Indian unit follows reports earlier in the month that claimed it was coming under pressure from investors to quit the country. Uninor is reported to have racked up around NOK3.4 billion (US$556 million) in operating losses to date, leading analysts to question its profitability targets. However, in an interview with India’s Financial Express today, Uninor EVP Rajiv Bawa said that Telenor had “no intentions whatsoever” to exit India and hinted at growth via M&A activity. “We entered prepared for this competition,” he added. “Once the dust settles on the M&A front, you will still see Uninor with its fair share of the market.”