Dropped French bid hits TeliaSonera shares

France Telecom said on Monday it was abandoning its offer to buy Nordic telecoms operator TeliaSonera, citing a failure to agree on financial conditions.

Dropped French bid hits TeliaSonera shares

Telia shares fell more than 12 percent to 43.70 kronor ($7.29) on the news when trading opening Monday morning on the Stockholm exchange.

“Despite favourable interest in the proposal, open dialogue with the board of TeliaSonera failed to come to an agreement on financial parameters” it said in a French-language statement.

It added that the attempt to acquire TeliaSonera was “not indispensible” in the context of its broader corporate strategy.

Earlier this month, France Telecom made a preliminary offer of €33 billion ($53 billion) for TeliaSonera in a bid to create the world’s fourth-biggest mobile operator.

But the Nordic operator immediately rejected it as “significantly” undervaluing the company.

Citing people familiar with the talks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that France Telecom had raised the price of the stock component of its offer, but it was still under 60 Swedish kronor per share.

France Telecom’s earlier offer comprised 52 percent cash and 48 percent in shares, with the cash component pitched at 63 kronor ($10.4) per share and the share component at 56.2 kronor.

France Telecom had set an informal deadline of Monday for reaching a deal, the US-based business newspaper reported.


‘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.