Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mikke on the sickly halfmother of Lattelekom

One of the blog's (possible) readers, Mikael Törnwall (Swedish nickname Mikke), a journalist with the business daily Dagens industri has written an interesting analysis of what's happening at TeliaSonera, the parent (or as Swedes and Germans would say, mother) of Lattelekom and the other Baltic telecoms and mobile companies (for Lattelekom, Telia Sonera is actually a half-mother, a bizarre term I used before on this blog).
Since not many of the readers of this blog read Swedish, here's the gist of what Mikke said:
TeliaSonera's efforts to grow outside its Nordic/Baltic "home market" have been less than a success and this has tarnished the company's image, not the least as expressed by its share price. Two hoped-for deals to take over Megafon, the Russian mobile operator, and Turkcell, the Turkish mobile, have, as Latvians would say, "gone to the Devil's mother. On the domestic market, TeliaSonera's daily bread and butter (telephony and broadband) is being eaten by competitors. In a great turn of phrase, Mikke says "Customers stubbornly want to call and surf more cheaply, and competitors stubbornly meet this demand." TeliaSonera's efforts to expand in the Nordic region by courting Norway's Telenor and Danish TDC have also failed (the merger attempt between Telia and Telenor was a black comedy, this blogger recalls, with Norwegian executives throwing punches at Norwegian radio journalists. Sonera was picked after that fiasco).
The most interesting thing Mikke says, sort of between the lines, is that the only hope left for TeliaSonera is some kind of pan-European affair. Now I may have mentioned this on the blog before (I think there was a rumor of France Telecom looking at TeliaSonera), but my standard answer to all the moaning and groaning in Latvia about the "Nordic supermonopoly" is that "you ain't seen Jack Shit yet" because TeliaSonera is a small fish compared to Deutsche Telecom, the French, Vodafone and others who could, if they wanted to, have TeliaSonera for lunch.
Speaking of lunch, the share price Mikke mentions in his May 25 is SEK 37.20. This a very nostalgic price for me, because it is what the standard lunch cost when I started working in Sweden in the 1980s. Today -- God knows... But lunch at that price, I'll take it. So let us see what happens to Lattelekom's half mother. Will she be married off as the poor Nordic orphan girl whose income from the domestic farmstead (Sweden) dried up? Or will she make money humming "I feel best in open landscapes..." millions and millions of times? (Mikke notes that entertainment is a possible new source of revenue, and that phrase is a bad translation of a very popular Swedish tune by Ulf Lundell, the sort of thing you want for a ring tone if you are a true Swede :)).

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