Monday, May 19, 2008

Catching up ahead of May 21

On May 21, Sisyphus (Kenneth Karlberg) and others from the half-mother TeliaSonera will be coming for negotiations (rolling the rock again) with the Latvian government on the proposed privatization deal concerning Lattelecom. Under the proposed deal, TeliaSonera will swap its shares for Lattelecom for the state's remaining holdings in Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) and probably pay a cash premium on top of the 49 % stake in the fixed operator.
Sisyphus (why do I call Kenneth that? Remember the Greek/?/ dude who was condemned to roll a stone up a hill only to have it roll back again and then roll a stone up a hill only...) should not get his hopes up. 
Still, I think that the half-mother should quietly forget about the idea of having the government sign off on a functional division into wholesale and retail operations of Lattelecom. TeliaSonera wants this to ensure that LMT will have open and fair/fairly priced access to Lattelecom's network. The Latvian government says it won't do this, but by 2010, it will have to do this because of upcoming European Union rules. As I see it, by the time the deal goes down (and we will be f**king lucky if it goes down by 2010), the functional division of Lattelecom will be an unavoidable reality.
So my recommendation: put your Lattelecom stake on the table with a nice pile of cash (let us say, an eye-opening amount). If you are lucky, the dude with the beard will say " Point one -- yes, point two -- we can sign on..." (this is a satire for my Latvian readers). If things go as usual, nothing will happen, so what else is new... As we all know, Sisyphus is head of TeliaSonera Mobility, a field where anything can happen, the future is unpredictable, technological change is mind-boggling, and nothing, nothing will be certain for Kenneth except that with Latvia, he will still be rolling that stone even if he retires, still shuttling to Riga,  as head of France Telecom Nordique Telepathy.
I have been remiss in updating the blog for a while.  Juris Gulbis, the new CEO of Lattelecom, has given a couple of interviews where he has said he will continue with the same strategy of developing broadband and related services that Lattelecom was following before Nils Melngailis was unseated. He also said that it was very important to settle the ownership question soon, so that management could get on with running the company, moving into mobile service and becoming a regional player. These points make sense, almost. If the against all previous experience, something actually moves ahead,  Gulbis could face answering to Ainars (Slesers, the Minister of Transport) and the Wackbats (the rest of the government) instead of the Swedes and the Wackbats. 

Who is smoking what?
While this may sound way off-topic, it has recently been discovered that a plant called Salvia can legally be smoked in Latvia with apparently entertaining results. It seems that someone at Deloitte in Latvia was smoking something when they signed off on a report saying that Latvia was one of the best places in the world for private equity investment.  

Hello! Hello! Are we on the same page? Or planet?
One of the world's largest private equity investors, The Blackstone Group, took part in a management buy-out bid  for Lattelecom which was given the BIG FINGER (with no rational argument) by the present government. I got the impression that the Latvian government was saying between the lines  that big, respectable private equity capital was about as welcome as a pig at a synagogue. 

I may be able to get a meeting with Sisyphus on the 21st and put up some video of it. 



1 comment:

Verslo tinklas said...

Please ask him one question from Lithuania:

As private investigation conducted by the Lithuanian company "Verslo tinklas" shows, TeliaSonera has been spying it's competitors by using a sophisticated system called ACB/ITSS. A representative of this company has confirmed that the system has initially been installed in Lattelecom and later was relocated to Lietuvos telekomas (Vilnius). ACB/ITSS works with a [competitor's] phone line bombarding service from the same Costa Rican company. We have copies of invoices paid for this spying service also we have official interview with people from Cibertec.

Is TeliaSonera ready to disclose the thruth about it's criminal actions [using ACB/ITSS] against competitors in Lithuania?

Thank you!