Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Parent games about to start?

There is speculation in Sweden's Dagens Nyheter (DN) that a major reshuffle of the Nordic telecoms market, involving Tele2, the parent of Latvia's Tele2 operations, and, according to other sources, TeliaSonera, the half-mother of Lattelekom and the sort-of-parent of Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT).
Tele2 may be ready to sell some of its Nordic (mobile phone operator Comviq) assets and eventually pull out of the region altogether, according to Urban Ekelund, an analyst with Redeye, quoted by DN. This would mean selling Tele2's fixed network assets in the Nordic countries, and. although DN doesn't say it, in the Baltics as well, where Tele2 recently stopped investment.
One reason for Tele2's future weakness on the Nordic market is that it has failed to get a broadband company in Sweden, having lost Song to TDC, the parent of Latvian/Lithuanian Bite. TDC in turn is being courted by private equity funds, who know that the company won't need too much fixing. As one insider told this blogger, TDC has had two US -based former owners (Ameritech and SBC) who have put its act together.
The other possible move for Tele2 is to try to buy one of the remaining independent cable-TV or pure broadband companies, such as ComHem (which Telia sold as a condition of merging with Sonera) or Glocalnet. That would put them back in the fight with more weight.
If Tele2 abandons the Nordic region, it may make a bigger effort in Eastern Europe and Russia, probably investing more heavily into mobile in this region. So that doesn't exclude the Tele2 fixed operation from being sold – but to who? For customer base acquisition, perhaps Triatel might be interested in getting people to switch from fixed to wireless? Lattelekom would face political difficulties and would gain little from buying another few thousand. customers.
Meanwhile, the idea of TeliaSonera being sold has resurfaced again, though not in the DN article. Analysts, reportedly at Dresdner Bank, are listing it and Swisscom as possible take-over targets. TeliaSonera has an attractive amount of cash, which, as one high executive at a competitor puts it, is a signal that "TeliaSonera has more money than brains", a reference to its failed attempts to buy Turkcell and some apparent lack of acquisition strategy (Orange in Denmark and Chess in Norway are not the biggest players in their respective mobile space, but TeliaSonera bought both recently). Telenor is also out shopping, it got Vodafone's operations in Sweden (an indirect challenge to Telia's mobile operations?).
Again, from the perspective of the global telecoms giants, perhaps one can let these two hardy, mid-sized Nordic dogs fight it out to see what their respective strengths are before putting them in the same German/French, yes, even Spanish kennel.

No comments: