Saturday, August 29, 2009

Estonian president Toomas Ilves on digital media

Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves talked about digital media at the Dream on Demand conference at the Estonian TV tower in Pirita, a Tallinn suburb on August 27. The video is a fragment of his speech, in which he also wondered whether the huge tower could become a "gravestone" for conventional broadcast TV (I did not record this :( ). Latvian viewers, please excuse the typographical error in the Latvian title, I am correcting it for inclusion in my blog next week

Monday, August 24, 2009

TeliaSonera offers complete buyouts of Estonian and Lithuanian subsidiaries

TeliaSonera has offered to buy the remaining shares in its Estonian and Lithuanian subsidiaries for just under SEK 5 billion cash. The Swedish telecoms group is offering SEK 3.3 billion for the remaining shares in Eesti Telecom, a holding company that owns 100 % of mobile operator Estonian Mobile Telephone (EMT) and fixed network operator Elion. It is offering just under SEK 1.6 billion for the remaining shares in TEO LT, the Lithuanian fixed network, internet TV, call center and data center services company. Telia Sonera currently holds around 60 % of both companies,
The offer has been criticized as somewhat low and taking advantage of the economic crisis by a Danske Bank analyst. However, this appears to be bottom feeding on the part of the Swedes, not real vulture capitalism (which presumes that the buy-out subject is near financial death).
All of which is fine and dandy, because Eesti Telecom shareholders can get more than 24 % above the last market price for their shares, while TEO LT shareholders are offered a premium of nearly 31 %. The offer also bounced up both the Tallinn (13.3 % at one point) and Vilnius (9.7 % in mid-session) bourses, and even got a 2.7 % rise out of Riga. Which is not to say that it takes much in any of these places.
However, in terms of the Latvian telecoms market, TeliaSonera has ignored its two other (as some European languages put it) daughters or semi-daughters -- Lattelecom (where it holds 49 %) and Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) (where it holds around 60%). The reason is that all the rest of the shares are held by the Latvian government --which, to use a term of management disfunction assessment often spoken but seldom written-- cannot unfuck itself to make any kind of decision.
So, while the Estonian government will get a considerable sum for its 24 % in Eesti Telecom, and many private Lithuanian shareholders will at least smile, if not laugh all the way to the bank (the state owns less than 1 % of TEO), the Latvian government will continue to hold its shares (which it could have unloaded for USD 1 billion a couple of years back) like a turkey guarding a shitpile (tītars uz sūdu kaudzes -- is that a Latvian expression?). Or am I wrong??

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

IZZI hires a "twitterista"

IZZI, the Latvian cable TV, telco and internet services provider who faced a storm of criticism for poor service on Twitter, has hired a full-time employee to look after its interests on Twitter and other social networks.
This, of course, happened while I was on vacation in the US, which is why I am reporting it only now. However, the Twitter firestorm was well under way before I left. There were both anti-IZZI and pro-IZZI (though this was apparently a spoof) Twitter accounts launched.
The problem apparently started when a customer, dissatisfied with IZZI's internet service (claiming up to 100 Mbps speeds for some customers) and frustrated in attempts to get the problem solved, started to badtweet the company. See my earlier post.
The issue also got attention on Latvian TV, causing more bad publicity for IZZI in the "mainstream" media. The company quickly reacted by seeking someone to manage its reputation on Twitter and other social networks. It asked that the letter of application be sent in tweet format, 140 characters. There were quite a few applicants.
This is a good development, early adoption of awareness that company reputation can be made or broken on social networks, also that valuable information about customer attitude and problems can be found on these networks.