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Telenor eyes merger with TeliaSonera

30 апреля 2008

Telenor is considering a tie-up with TeliaSonera and has hired advisors to look at a possible deal, the newswires reported Tuesday, citing Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The paper, which did not name its sources, said the Norwegian incumbent has appointed Nordea and JP Morgan to analyse the situation, adding that the two telcos have already held talks.

Both Telenor and TeliaSonera declined to comment on the rumours.

The news comes two weeks after it emerged that France Telecom is interested in taking over TeliaSonera.

Having initially refused to comment, the French telco later admitted it has take exploratory steps towards TeliaSonera, describing the operator as potential strategic opportunity. It also expressed interest in other possible targets, including Telenor.

However, France Telecom has not made any formal bid.

While Telenor and TeliaSonera might appear to be a good fit culturally, a merger would face heavy scrutiny from competition bodies.
Both companies have mobile operations in the other's home market, and both offer mobile services in Denmark, for example, while there is also cross-ownership with their emerging market assets.

History is not on the side of a tie-up between the pair.

's Telia agreed to merge with Telenor in October 1999, but the deal fell apart two months later as the two governments failed to resolve various issues surrounding the deal. 

Telenor admitted to a second attempt in 2002. Following the tie-up between Telia and Sonera to create TeliaSonera, the Norwegian operator revealed that it had taken part in secret talks earlier that year over a possible three-way merger.

The path would be unlikely to be any smoother this time around.

The Norwegian government still holds a 53.97% stake in Telenor, while
Sweden and Finland claim shares of 37.3% and 13.7% respectively in TeliaSonera.

Quoting Norwegian analyst firm SEB Enskilda, Reuters also noted that the Norwegian government would be unlikely to agree to the deal, since it would result in it losing some control of Telenor, as the telco would have to pay for part of the acquisition in shares.

Источник: Total Telecom

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