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Russian Sistema protest Indian government revocation of its licenses

Russian conglomerate Sistema put the Indian government on notice, saying it would initiate proceedings as per the provisions of the bilateral investment treaty if the issue of revocation of telecom licences is not resolved within six months.

Sistema runs its telecom business in India under a joint venture with Shyam Group, offering services under the MTS brand.

The formal notice requests the Republic of India to settle the dispute relating to the revocation of SSTL’s 21 telecom licenses in an amicable way within six months, the company said in a statement.

If the dispute is not amicably resolved by Aug 28, 2012, Sistema reserves the right to commence proceedings against The Republic of India as provided in the BIT, it added.

The Indian Supreme Court last month ordered cancellation of 122 telecom licences, including 21 of Sistema Shyam Teleservice (SSTL).

The company said the cancellation of SSTL’s licenses when Sistema had invested billions of dollars into the Indian telecom sector was contrary to India’s obligations under the BIT, including obligations to provide full protection and security and obligations not to expropriate investments.

The firm has invested more than $2.5 billion in the country.

Sistema holds a 56.68 percent stake in SSTL, while the Russian government holds 17.14 percent and the Shyam Group has 23.98 percent. The remaining 2.2 is publicly owned. SSTL has over 15 million customers across India.