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TELECOM

Telia Sonera doles out billions on strong report

Swedish-Finnish telecom firm Telia Sonera has reported a profit after financial items of 6.98 billion kronor ($947 million) for the final quarter 2009, up from 6.58 billion in the corresponding period of 2008.

Analysts had anticipated a profit of 6.75 billion, according to a Reuters survey.

Telia Sonera’s CEO Lars Nyberg emphasised that he was satisfied with the company’s annual report.

“Thanks to a good combination of mature markets and growth markets we have managed to retain turnover in local currencies, report the highest Ebitda [Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] result ever and improve cashflow with as much as 50 percent,” Nyberg said.

Turnover came in at 27.41 billion kronor, in comparison with 28.1 billion in 2008.

Ebitda operating results, excluding extraordinary items amounted to 9.04 billion kronor, up from 8.27 billion kronor in the fourth quarter 2008. Analyst expectations were 8.77 billion, according to Reuters.

Telia Sonera forecast that turnover in local currency and excluding acquisitions will be somewhat higher this year than last. Currency fluctuations can have a significant impact on the amounts reported in Swedish kronor, the company advised.

Lars Nyberg pointed out that the company has managed to break the trend of continual cost increases. Strong cashflow enables the firm to make investments during 2010 to ensure Telia Sonera’s future growth, he added.

Telia Sonera’s board has recommended a dividend payment of 2.25 kronor per share, amounting to a total of 10.1 billion kronor, in comparison with 1.80 kronor per share last year.

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PRIVACY

Telia leaks customers’ private phone logs

Swedish telecom firm Telia has come under fire after the company published customers' private information, leaked their bills online, and revealed lists of SMS and phone call recipients.

Telia leaks customers' private phone logs

Several customers of Telia, the Swedish subsidiary of Swedish-Finnish telecom company TeliaSonera, learned this week that their information had been leaked for several months and was still available on Google cached documents. One of those affected was 28-year-old Madelene Dalebrand Wachler from Hudiksvall in eastern Sweden.

“[Swedish tabloid] Aftonbladet rang me and explained that my billing statements were viewable online… you could come in directly and see it all – all the calls I’d made and all the people to whom I had sent an SMS,” she told The Local.

The information came with names, addresses, telephone numbers and even lengths of the phone calls.

“It’s terrible. Some of the people I had contacted had private and unpublished numbers, and all of this has been leaked by Telia,” she added.

Wachler has since contacted authorities at Sweden’s Data Inspectorate (Datainspektionen) who have promised to launch an investigation into the matter.

“I’m also looking into getting compensation from Telia. Information shouldn’t be available like this, it’s horrible and it’s quite scary actually. And it makes it harder to trust all these big companies,” she said.

Telia spokesman Hans G. Larsson was shocked to learn of the leaks, confirming that only a few people were affected.

“This in unacceptable, of course, and it’s something we will be looking into. We do offer our customers confidentiality and this involves the data protection act,” he told Aftonbladet.

He explained that the system had been shuttered later on Monday night, which meant no customers were able to see their own statements online at the time.

“If you need to pay a bill over the coming days, you can log into My Pages [Mina sidor] on Telia to see the statements,” Larsson told the TT news agency.

“Thank goodness, this seems to have been very limited. Nothing points to it being a large group of customers being affected, but it’s bad enough already,” Larsson told the TT news agency.

Oliver Gee

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