Telia profits double despite fixed-line problems

Swedish-Finnish phone operator Telia Sonera has reported earnings before deductions of 7.928 billion kronor, buoyed by improved margins in its mobile operations and higher sales. The profits were nearly double those of the same quarter last year.

Sales increased 4.5 percent to 22.7 billion kronor.

The profits were above average market forecasts of 7.830 billion kronor, as recorded by SME Direkt.

But the second quarter report also contained disappointments, with earnings from Swedish fixed line operations 12 percent lower than average forecasts.

During the second quarter the number of fixed line retail customers in Sweden fell by 91,000. This corresponds to 1,000 lost subscriptions a day. However, the company said that 42,000 of this subscriptions were transferred to its wholesale services.

There was a big jump in the number of broadband customers in Sweden, with the number of subscribers increasing by 220,000 over the past year. The figure now stands at 819,000.

Mobile traffic increased 15 percent since the same period last year, and the company reported that use of mobile data services had increased sharply. The number of mobile customers increased by 124,000 to 4,439,000.

The company’s CEO, Anders Igel, welcomed the results.

“The strong performance continued in the second quarter with close to 5 percent growth and a higher margin by almost 2 percentage points,” he said.

“The result from our operations increased more than 40 percent to a new record of SEK 6.3 billion. The strong performance was driven by good development in most operations, successful implementation of synergies from acquisitions and effects from ongoing efficiency measures.”


‘Rotten’ business claims at Nordic TeliaSonera

Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera has been accused of “rotten” business dealings in Azerbaijan, following a separate bribery scandal in Uzbekistan.

'Rotten’ business claims at Nordic TeliaSonera
A TeliaSonera conference in Stockholm last year. Photo: TT

Folksam, which is one of the largest insurance companies in Sweden, has accused the firm of “systematic cheating”, after it emerged that TeliaSonera’s subsidiary in Azerbaijan had ties with the family of Ilham Aliyev, the Arab nation’s leader.

It has been claimed that the dictator’s daughters were shareholders of TeliaSonera's subsidiary Azertel, via a connected company based in Panama.

“It is distressing that in a large Swedish company…people thought that cheating would pay off in the long run,” Carina Lundberg Markow, one of Folksam’s managers told the TT news agency on Wednesday.

She criticized TeliaSonera for failing to act “in an honest and open way” when entering new markets.

“Instead, they choose to pay for success,” she added.

TeliaSonera is one of the biggest telecom operators in the Nordic and Baltic countries and also operates in several emerging markets in Eurasia including Russia and Turkey, as well as Spain. The Swedish state owns 37.3 percent of the company.

Swedish prosecutor Gunnar Stetler is already investigating claims of unethical business practices in Uzbekistan and told TT he had also been given new information concerning potential bribery in Azerbaijan.

The company has voluntarily cooperated with the investigation, handing over what Stetler describes as “extensive information” about “the terms and conditions in Eurasian countries”.

Stetler said he was unable to discuss how he had responded to the information. But calls are growing for TeliaSonera to release a public report about its business dealings.

“Now it is extremely important to create transparency,” said Lundberg Markow.

“This shows the importance of having a set of values when doing business in complex markets or countries,” she added.

TeliaSonera and Norwegian rival Telenor recently merged their operations in Denmark, while the telecoms giant last year purchased rival Tele2's Norwegian division for 5.1 kronor.