I have been in Stockholm at the Global Forum, a big business conference sponsored, among others, by Lattelecom. Naturally, there was opportunity to catch some rumors about what may be happening next.
1) It appears the half-mother (TeliaSonera) would be ready to go along with Lattelecom's staff and management buy-out proposal. This is rather logical, because it would bail the half-mother out of what is beginning to look like a stranded investment. So far, the Latvian government has made only one decision-- that it will not sell both Lattelecom and Latvian Moble Telephone (LMT) to TeliaSonera. It is willing to sell just LMT, but the government has made no decision in nearly a year about whether it will finalize a deal swapping its remaining holdings in LMT for TeliaSonera's 49 % stake in Lattelecom plus a cash payment. Independent appraisals have been made of both companies, it should be a matter of quick negotiation to seal the deal, but the Latvian government continues to waffle and waver.
The management buy-out proposal is a means of pressuring the government to do something, to make a decision soon, but at the same time, it is not a bluff. Lattelecom has its ducks...sorry, banks lined up and if the deal were to go through, TeliaSonera could cash out of an investment in which it would be bought out anyway by the Latvian government, only God only knows when.
As things look, Lattelecom top execs got the nod on their idea from the half-mother while here in Sweden.
2) Look for Lattelecom and the Latvian social networking website draugiem.lv to strike a businessm-to-business networking deal, something along the line of people in the same company or "fans"(customers) of a certain product forming subgroups in draugiem and companies setting up shops and internet sales points on draugiem. Lauris Liberts, the founder of draugiem.lv and Lattelecom officials talked openly of this idea. Liberts also said he expects draugiem.lv to pass 1 million users in the foreseeable future.
3) Finally, look for Lattelecom to launch an alternative, private sector e-signature that can be used on a mobile phone. Details are sketchy, but if the software gadget is cheaper to obtain and easier to use than the state and Latvian Postal Service sponsored official e-signature, then it could take off. Rumor has it that the number of e-signatures actually bought by private sector businesses and private citizens is perhaps a couple of thousand.
Also ran into some dumb-ass behavior characteristic of broomstick-up-the-ass stereotype robot Germans when a Swedish immigrant taxi driver refused to detour on a fixed price trip from Arlanda airport to some hotel downtown and let me off where I was staying in Kista, just off the main highway from the airport. Had to pay the fucker an extra SEK 50. Unbelievable. Just a few years ago, I was in the same situation, sharing a cab after missing the airport bus, and it was absolutely no problemo, the guy let me off along the way, I paid the other passangers my share and that was it.