Telenor's board has taken the unusual step of publicly backing its CEO after admitting it was split on challenges facing the Norway-based operator.

The statement said yesterday's meeting of the board of directors involved the discussion of “several complex issues” such as strategy, governance and compliance and that there were "differing viewpoints".

However, there was unanimous agreement on the operator's strategic direction towards 2020, it said.

The board also "confirmed its trust" in CEO Sigve Brekke (pictured) to take the company forward, noting recent criticisms of his time as the company's Head of Asia.

Yesterday an internal audit revealed it had uncovered a range of “unacceptable” sponsorship deals at its opcos in Asia.

For example, the Bangladeshi security police had a canteen refurbished thanks to money from Telenor.

Another review by PWC, also detailed on Tuesday, found irregularities in relation to ownership of land on which base stations in Thailand were built.

A third ongoing investigation is looking into alleged financial irregularities in an unnamed market in which Telenor operates.

In response to the latest reports, the operator said: "It is the Board's opinion that Mr. Brekke is the right person to lead the implementation of the new strategy."

It added: “Telenor operates in many challenging markets and will also in the future have to handle compliance and business ethics risks.

“The Board and management will therefore further strengthen the mitigation work and the development of good systems to detect and solve issues that arise.”

It added: “Going forward, the board will focus fully on the continued development of Telenor as a value creating, innovative and responsible company.”
 
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