Monday, September 20, 2004

TeliaSonera makes its pitch

TeliaSonera's Kenneth Karlberg made his keynote pitch to the Baltic Sea Region Communications Forum, mostly (in my case) preaching to the converted about fixed to mobile migration, broadband as the basis of fixed network connections, etc ( I think I was telling this to Lena Suhonen, Lattelekom MD at the time, in 2001 or something, but bloggers shouldn't brag) . Karlberg did make an interesting point to try to coax the Latvian government into considering his appeal to sell the remainder of LMT and Lattelekom to TeliaSonera.
He said it was an issue for TeliaSonera as an owner to see that Lattelekom can develop and full ownership is the best way. Full ownership integrates the Latvian companies into a group where investments in new products and infrastructure can be attributed to the entire group's customer base, so that when one LVL per customer is spend, the total expenditure (and, I suppose, the expected return) is higher. One euro per TS subscriber in R&D gets substantial resources, no one company in one market can do the same, that is why we underline inmportance of inc. ownership. Important for us but crucial for partly owned companie, said Karlberg.
Developing smarter flexible technical platforms that are cost efficient, benefits both customers and the company. There is competition here and TeliaSonera owned companies must focus and simplfy their business, esp. for incumbents with monopoly legacy. TeliaSonera has a new agenda of simplicity, easy to use services on best tech solutions at competitive prices.
There is a transition on all markets to convergent technologies, we must further integrate fixed and mobile into multimedia service platform and as contribution from each TeliaSonera company.
Karlberg also said that in Estonia, the board of Elion had accepted this argument but didn't agree on price, which is why the TeliaSonera bid to get more failed. In Latvia, there still seems to be a conceptual, not an economic disagreement with the government. Indulis Emsis thinks the future is in "asserting control and stewardship" over telecommunications and then hoping the dividends will roll in. Will Emsis settle for a minority share and good dividends, or let Lattelekom drift without whole-hearted support from TeliaSonera, which could mean earnings could drop.
Another thing that is forgotten is the crackpot- to my mind– government audit office audit of Lattelekom, including the usefulness of its marketing expenditures, etc. The State Auditor doesn't think like a risk-taking business, where there is considerable spending without obvious returns (business is an intelligent gamble in any event, which is not the way one should spend taxpayer money, so a different paradigm is applicable for the expenditures, say, of the Animal Control Authority than a telecoms operator). This shows the kinds of constraints that will be in the background for Lattelekom as long as it is not predominantly or completely private. Nothing, to my mind, could be worse than having the company treated as a state agency,
Interesting presentation now going on by Jerome Duvat, a CapGemini analyst, on the rise of DSPs (DSL service providers), these seem to be the wave of the future in France, lots of price cutting, bundled services such as voice and TV.
More on today's presentations later, I hope. Latvenergo talking now.
This is being blogged from the conference via WiFi.

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