Swedes stoke TeliaSonera speculation
Scandinavian carrier Telia Company is likely to attract private equity interest following a top-level upheaval this week that saw five board members ousted by the carrier's main owners, the Swedish and Finnish governments (45.3 percent share and 13.7 percent share, respectively).
Sweden's new center-right government, which won the country's elections last September, intends to cut its stake in the carrier, a move that could tempt all-out takeover bids. Swedish private equity firm Cevian Capital has been linked to a potential bid in the past.
TeliaSonera currently carries a market value of 269 billion Swedish Kroner (US$38.1 billion). In the first nine months of 2006 the carrier generated revenues of SK67.9 billion ($9.7 billion) and net income of SEK14.7 billion ($2.1 billion). (See TeliaSonera Reports Q3.)
In other M&A news:
Sistema president Alexander Goncharuk told Kommersant that he was interested in a stake in the Italian incumbent, but that no deal had been agreed upon. Talks are due with Pirelli SpA (Milan: PECI.MI), which holds a controlling 80 percent interest in holding company Olimpia SpA, which in turn owns 18 percent of Telecom Italia.
Sistema is already heavily involved in telecom, as it owns two Russian carriers, Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) and Comstar United Telesystems JSC (London: CMST), as well as European software and hardware vendor JSC Sitronics (London: SITR). (See Sistema Reports Q3 and Russian Vendor Plans $500M IPO.)
EC gets worried
Following the telecom services meltdown suffered in the Far East following last month's earthquake, the European Commission is fretting about a similar situation here on the Old Continent. (See Earthquake Cuts Cables Near Taiwan, Quake Disrupts StarHub Service, Asia Netcom Restores Cable, and NTT Restores Services.)
While significant earthquakes aren't top of the worry list, the EC is seeking feedback on how to avoid a "domino effect" that could "result in a major technological collapse of communications and the many services they support" following a criminal attack or natural disaster. (See EC Considers Attack.)
European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, is quoted in the EC press release as saying, "Communication and information infrastructures are the nervous system of our modern society." And they'll likely be a lot more nervous now that the EC has issued its "attack" and "hazards" statement.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading