Interest in TeliaSonera looks to be increasing
More and more potential suitors are swarming around the Nordic teleoperator TeliaSonera. At least the analysts observing the company seem to think so.
On Tuesday the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported - based on anonymous sources - that the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor has hired two investment banks to look into the possibility of taking over TeliaSonera.
On Tuesday Helsingin Sanomat tried to reach the Swedish and Norwegian ministers in charge of the part ownership of the companies, the Telenor leadership, and the TeliaSonera Chairman of the Board Tom von Weymarn for comment. All parties came up with the same reply:
“No comment on market rumours.”
Only just over a week ago the French telecommunications giant France Télécom admitted it was interested in TeliaSonera.
The Swedish government has announced that it would like to divest its 37% share in the company during the current term in office, so some kind of change of ownership is expected to take place in the next couple of years.
Sweden's Minister for Local Government and Financial Markets, Mats Odell, under whose jurisdiction the overseeing of the selling of TeliaSonera would fall, has in previous interviews spoken in favour of a restructuring arrangement. This would mean merging with another teleoperator.
According to Swedish analysts, it is very likely that Telenor is indeed looking into buying TeliaSonera.
“In all probability, dozens of teleoperators are currently keeping an eye on the purchasing of TeliaSonera”, Kaupthing analyst Per Ekstrand says.
Ekstrand does not believe, however, that Telenor and TeliaSonera will end up together. The market share of the pairing would reach 80 per cent in Norway and 65 per cent in Sweden and the competition authorities would never accept that.
In Ekstrand’s view it would be best to sell TeliaSonera piecemeal.
“That way a maximum price could be collected for each one of the operations.”
Telenor has successfully sought expansion in the Asian market, for example in Malaysia, Thailand, and Pakistan.
“Presumably Telenor would be interested in TeliaSonera’s corresponding activities in Eurasia. Meanwhile some other player might want to take over TeliaSonera’s steady cash flow operations in the Nordic countries.”
Telenor and the Swedish Telia already nearly joined forces in 1999. At the last minute the effort ran aground due to a dispute over the locations of branches. Telia later merged with the Finnish Sonera.
Previously in HS International Edition:
France Télécom confirms interest in TeliaSonera (18.4.2008)
Rumours of France Télécom interest in TeliaSonera send stock soaring (17.4.2008)