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TeliaSonera head rolls after Uzbek affair

Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera said on Thursday it was replacing the head of its mobile services unit over his role in the group's controversial investments in Uzbekistan.

TeliaSonera head rolls after Uzbek affair

“Tero Kivisaari’s role in TeliaSonera’s criticised investments in Uzbekistan… has made it impossible for him to act with the internal and external authority necessary,” chief executive Johan Dennelind said in a statement.

“The investments in Uzbekistan were carried out in a way not compliant with the business practices TeliaSonera wants to stand for,” he added.

The group named Sverker Hannervall acting president of its mobility services operation, while Kivisaari will take on “other duties” at the company.

Hannervall will remain TeliaSonera’s head of business services.

The Swedish prosecution authority last year launched a corruption probe into TeliaSonera’s licence acquisition in Uzbekistan in September 2012.

An external probe ordered by the company found no evidence to support claims that it bribed a woman with ties to the central Asian country’s government to obtain a 3G licence in 2007.

AFP/The Local/og

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TELIASONERA

‘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.