Monday, April 21, 2008

Une demi-mere francaise?

Word is now out that the half-mother of Lattelecom (and indirect 60 % stakeholder in mobile operator LMT), TeliaSonera, is being courted by France Telecom.
This confirms soemthing I have written earlier -- the half-mother is just a mid-sized fish. If you want to see the really big killer whales in this business, wait until the European and international telco giants get frisky. Well, now they are.
The deal is far from certain, as the Swedish and international press have been writing. The French will have to considerably sweeten any share-swap with cash, and that won't please the creditors of France Telecom, who are still owed billion for (if I am not mistaken) a deal done a couple of years back to buy/expand the mobile operator Orange.
The French are interested, most likely, in the Nordic market and the half-mother's partial motherhood in mobile operations in Turkey, Russia and some of the 'stans. Latvia is below the event horizon on this one. Lattelecom's annual revenues are about what France Telecom takes in over a 36 hour period.
So what might interest the French? LMT is one of the most profitable units in the TeliaSonera family, so it could make a good addition to Orange, even be Orange Latvia if we fantasize further into the future. Or Orange Baltics, since it appears to be in the cards that Vodafone will buy the calf -- the Bite Group -- being fattened by MidEuropa Partners. So a pan-Baltic response would make sense from France Telecom's side.
Would the French step up, roll up their sleeves and plunge their hands into the Latvian telecoms tarbaby? Probably -- first, to get LMT, but also for the fixed network operated by Lattelecom in order to expand its internet TV footprint, where France Telecom is said to be number one in Europe. So there may be a pan-Baltic IPTV project, as well.
This is far fetched to be sure, but the big telco raptors are stirring and something is bound to happen. Who knows, maybe Sysiphus (TeliaSonera honcho Kenneth Karlberg) will get to take a rest while some Kerman Karlbourg struggles for another five years with the indecisive and wavering Latvian government,


Anonymous said...

Hi Juris,

I enjoy reading your critics on Latvian wireless industry.

I am just curious on what made you think of the following paragraph in April 2008? and do you think that it is still the same?

Regards, Bora

"...Or Orange Baltics, since it appears to be in the cards that Vodafone will buy the calf -- the Bite Group -- being fattened by MidEuropa Partners...."

Juris Kaža said...

I still think Bite is Vodafone's fatted calf. When they will come for it is another matter.