Ex-Sonera CEO now works for Emirates Investment Authority in London
Kaj-Erik Relander remembered for involvement in Sonera snooping scandal
By Anssi Miettinen and Tuomo Pietiläinen in London and Helsinki
Kaj-Erik Relander, the former CEO of the telecommunications service provider Sonera, has surfaced at the Emirates Investment Authority (EIA), a federal sovereign wealth fund for the seven states comprising the United Arab Emirates ((Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain).
The EIA was established in 2007, and the objective of the authority is to find first-class investment opportunities and to achieve attractive financial returns. The assets of the United Arab Emirates include telecommunications companies, oil companies, and at least two banks, namely Gulf International Bank and Gulf Investment Corporation.
The exact size of the investments of the EIA is not known, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of euros. After all, it is one of the largest investment companies in the Middle East.
Relander’s title at the EIA is Chief Investment Officer, in other words investment manager.
Relander moved to the Emirates Investment Authority last January from Accel Partners, for which he had been working since 2001. Accel Partners is a well-known California-based venture capital firm with offices located in Silicon Valley, London, China, and India.
At the helm of Sonera, Relander became well-known as a strong-willed leader. He was involved in bidding on Germany’s auction for operating licences for third-generation UMTS mobile networks, in cooperation with the Spanish telecom operator Telefonica.
Two years later, Sonera announced a EUR 4.3 billion writedown in losses, which effectively reduced the value of its German and Italian licences to zero.
Kaj-Erik Relander resigned from his post as the President and CEO of Sonera in 2001, after just six months in the position.
Kaj-Erik Relander played a crucial role even in the so-called "Sonera snooping scandal" involving the alleged violation of communications privacy at Sonera.
The targets of the illegal tracing of telephone records were Sonera employees, including a number of executives and board members.
In March 2007, the Helsinki Court of Appeals handed down a six-month suspended sentence against Kaj-Erik Relander for aggravated violation of communications privacy. Several other Sonera executives also received sentences for their part in the goings-on.
Kaj-Erik Relander was born in Helsinki on June 21st, 1962.
His family includes a wife, who is a banker, and three children.
Relander is a graduate economist from the Helsinki School of Economics (1990).
In the early 1990s Relander was involved in more than ten limited companies. In four of them bankruptcy proceedings were interrupted because of a lack of assets, while another firm was closed down after liquidation.
Relander also worked as the Development Manager at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra at the beginning of the 1990s.
In 1994, he moved to Telecom Finland (later Tele) taking up the duties of the group business controller. In 1997, the name was changed to Sonera.
Relander was in charge of the company’s internalisation between 1998 and 1999.
In March 2000, Relander became the Deputy CEO of Sonera. In practice, he also attended to the duties of Aulis Salin who was to step down from the post of CEO.
From the beginning of 2001 to June 2001, Relander worked as the CEO of Sonera.
After leaving Sonera, Relander worked from 2001 to 2010 as a partner for the well-known California-based venture capital firm Accel Partners, which has offices in several major cities, including London.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 1.6.2010
Previously in HS International Edition:
Court of Appeals affirms sentences in Sonera snooping case (16.3.2007)
Six Sonera executives charged in Sonera phone record scandal (4.1.2005)
Ex-Sonera Chairman: Parliament agreed to UMTS investments (23.8.2002)
Emirates Investment Authority (EIA)
ANSSI MIETTINEN AND TUOMO PIETILÄINEN / Helsingin Sanomat