TeliaSonera to slash 2,900 jobs

Swedish-Finnish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera said Friday it would slash 2,900 jobs to improve efficiency as it reported a 5.2 percent rise in 2007 earnings that failed to please the market.

The announcement sent TeliaSonera’s share price plunging on the Stockholm stock exchange, shedding 7.08 percent to 52.50 kronor in early morning trade.

TeliaSonera said two-thirds of the job cuts would be in Sweden and the remainder in Finland. The company had 28,528 employees at the end of 2006.

The semi-public group said the cuts were part of a savings plan of four billion kronor ($614 million) to be completed by early 2009.

The savings were deemed necessary as the group shifts the focus of its product mix from fixed telephony to IP-based and mobile services, it said.

TeliaSonera reported a 5.2 percent increase in full-year net profit to 20.29 billion kronor, while sales climbed 5.8 percent to 96.34 billion kronor.

For the fourth quarter alone, net profit was up 14.8 percent to 5.2 billion kronor and sales rose 7.5 percent to 24.9 billion kronor.

Fourth quarter pre-tax profit of 5.76 billion kronor was below analyst forecasts for 6.06 billion.

Operating profit excluding exceptional items was also lower than expected, at 6.35 billion kronor. Analysts had anticipated 6.9 billion kronor.

Looking ahead, TeliaSonera said it expected its 2008 net profit to be “somewhat” higher than in 2007 and predicted sales and operating margin would remain stable.

At the end of 2007, the group had 115 million subscribers, compared to 96.2 million in 2006, it said.