TeliaSonera sacks chief executive

Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera, the biggest in northern Europe, said on Tuesday it had sacked its chief executive Anders Igel and would appoint a new head to improve its commercial drive.

“When assessing TeliaSonera’s strategic options going forward, the board concluded that the company is entering a new phase and will benefit from a new leadership,” the company said in a statement.

“To further improve the spirit and commercial drive in the organization, TeliaSonera needs a strong a motivating leadership focused on growth, restructuring and value enhancement,” it said.

Igel, who has served as president and CEO since 2002 when Sweden’s Telia and Finland’s Sonera merged, will leave office on July 31st.

The current chief financial officer, Kim Ignatius, will serve as acting chief executive until a replacement is found.

TeliaSonera’s share price rose on the news, gaining 3.33 percent to 51.25 kronor in opening trading on the Stockholm stock exchange.

Telecom analyst Helena Nordman-Knutsson at Ohman Fondkommission said the announcement was expected.

“Chief executives have different roles in different phases. A major clean-up job has been done and Igel has done a good job there. Now the company is entering a new phase and for that a new leader is needed,” she told Swedish news agency TT.

TeliaSonera posted strong first-quarter earnings boosted by mobile telephony but saw its margins slide.

“I am satisfied with the top-line growth and the bottom line but I am concerned about the margin within Broadband Services,” Igel said at the time.

In the first three months of the year, the company reported a 2.9-percent drop in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization to 7.58 billion kronor ($1.08 billion) while margins fell from 35.6 to 33.4 percent.

The Swedish state is the biggest shareholder in TeliaSonera with 37.3 percent. The Finnish state holds 13.7 percent.

The Swedish state sold an eight-percent stake in TeliaSonera in May, yielding 18 billion kronor (2.67 billion dollars, 1.97 billion euros), as part of the centre-right government’s privatization plans.