Alliance plans Telia sell-off

Telia Sonera could be broken up and sold off if the opposition Alliance wins the Swedish election on Sunday.

“That’s we have been discussing within the Centre Party – holding on to Telia’s infrastructure but selling off the rest,” said the Centre Party’s economic spokesman Roger Tiefensee.

“It’s been part of the discussion about what we call ‘the digital right of access’.”

The Swedish state currently owns 45 percent of Telia Sonera.

Several European countries have broken up their old telecommunications monopolies, with the infrastructure remaining under state control and the services being sold off.

“I met investors in London last week,” said the Christian Democrats’ industrial affairs spokesman Mats Odell to TT.

“Obviously they reckon that privatising Telia would also lead to further deregulation of the telecommunication market in Sweden.”

British Telecom in the UK was privatised according to a similar model, and this week there have been rumours that Italy’s largest operator, Telecom Italia, will sell off its mobile and fixed networks to focus on services.

But unlike the Italian firm, Telia has no major debt. On the contrary, it is doing what it can to invest its cash.

The company recently bought a Spanish 3G company and has paid out an extra 10 billion kronor a year to shareholders.

The centre-right Alliance has said that the state’s shares in Telia Sonera are high on the sales list in the event of an election victory.

As the main shareholder, the Swedish state can choose to sell the whole lot or to divide up the company and sell off part of it. Separating the network from the rest of the business would, not least, please competitors, the Swedish Competition Authority and the Swedish National Post and Telecom Agency, PTS.

Various groups have for years demanded that Telia stop its network discrimination, unjustified payments and blocking competitors’ access to telecommunication stations.

“It’s entirely possible to keep the infrastructure – that’s something to be discussed,” said Roger Tiefensee.

“It could be that Telia is sold off quickly, but first we’ll have to look at it carefully to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”