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TELECOM

TeliaSonera’s Baltic acquisitions move forward

TeliaSonera has yet to take over full control of Lithuania’s TEO LT as planned, the Nordic telecommunications operator said on Tuesday, but it has acquired nearly all of Estonia's Eesti Telekom.

TeliaSonera in late August offered almost €480 million ($712 million) to buy out minority shareholders in Eesti and TEO LT.

The company already had a stake of nearly 60 percent in each Baltic operator.

The Estonian government in September approved the sale of its 27 percent interest in Eesti to TeliaSonera, which now controls 97.58 percent of the shares and plans to acquire the remainder as well.

But TeliaSonera was only able to gain control of around 68 percent of TEO LT.

TeliaSonera, formed by the merger of Telia of Sweden and Sonera of Finland, in 2008, had more than 2.0 million clients in Lithuania and 778,000 in Estonia at the end of that year.

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ESTONIA

Eerie reminder of Baltic maritime disaster washes ashore

More than two decades after the sinking of MS Estonia, which claimed the lives of 852 people, a life buoy believed to be from the shipwreck has been found.

Eerie reminder of Baltic maritime disaster washes ashore
The life buoy from Estonia. Photo: Tvärminne Zoological Station

The MS Estonia sank on September 28th 1994 on a crossing from Tallinn to Stockholm, carrying 989 people on board: 803 passengers and 186 crew. The vast majority died in the disaster, 501 of whom were Swedish.

What appears to be a sad reminder of the tragedy washed ashore on an island last weekend, when a team from Finland's forestry administration Metsähallitus/Forststyrelsen were out eradicating invasive rose bushes in the Finnish archipelago. They found the life buoy, believed to be from the shipwreck, south of Jussarö.

“It is likely that this styrofoam buoy has been crushed by the high pressure at 80m depth, where the wreck lies, and then returned to the surface 23 years later. An eerie reminder from the past,” wrote the Tvärminne Zoological Station, which published a picture of the life buoy on Facebook.

The buoy was found more than 100 kilometres from where the MS Estonia sank in one of the Baltics' worst peacetime disasters.


The bow doors salvaged from the sea in November 1994. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

An international probe in 1997 blamed faulty bow doors which gave way in a storm, but there have also been numerous claims from relatives, shipping experts and politicians that the ferry sank after an explosion caused by military equipment being transported on board.

The majority of the victims were Swedish and pressure was heaped on the Swedish government to raise the MS Estonia to recover the bodies and try to establish exactly what happened. However, those hopes were destroyed when the decision was taken to leave the vessel where it was and let the victims be buried at sea.

To ensure the site would not be tampered with the ship was covered in thousands of tonnes of gravel and a protection order was taken out. Many of the families affected by the tragedy still hold out hope there will be a fresh inquiry and that the ship will be raised, while others believe it should be preserved as a mass grave.