TeliaSonera beats profit expectations

Swedish-Finnish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera, currently being eyed as a possible acquisition target by France Telecom, reported on Friday strong first-quarter results, beating analysts' expectations.

The company, which is in the midst of a restructuring process, posted a net profit of 4.99 billion kronor ($834 million) in the first quarter, up 8.9 percent, according to its earnings statement.

TeliaSonera also said its net sales rose by 7.4 percent to 24.40 billion kronor, easily beating expectations of 24.13 billion kronor, according to analysts polled by SME-Direkt.

For 2008, the Nordic operator said its outlook was unchanged and that it expected an operating margin similar to the 32.2 percent margin it posted in 2007, while its net profit would be “somewhat higher” than the 2007 number, excluding “positive one-off items.”

For all of last year, the group reported a net profit of 20.29 billion kronor.

TeliaSonera, which traditionally has focused on fixed telephony, is currently restructuring with large investments in IP and mobile telephony services, as well as a string of cost-cutting measures set to be carried out by the end of 2009.

The company hopes to reduce annual costs by around five billion kronor compared to its 2007 level.

The restructuring process, which includes some 2,900 job cuts across Sweden and Finland, is meanwhile expected to cost around four billion kronor.