France Telecom bid for TeliaSonera 'too low,' says official

The Swedish government believes that a €33 billion (US$51 billion) bid for operator TeliaSonera by France Telecom was too low, an AFP report said, quoting Swedish Finance Minister Mats Odell.

The Swedish state is the largest shareholder in the company, holding a 37.3% stake, the AFP report said.

'My preliminary conclusion is that the bid from France Telecom does not correspond to TeliaSonera's full potential and worth. I thus share the TeliaSonera board's interpretation of today's bid,' Odell said in a statement.

The TeliaSonera board of directors decided unanimously to reject the France Telecom proposal, worth about €33 billion, saying it 'substantially undervalues the company.'

The Swedish state has previously announced plans to sell its stake in the phone group, along with its holdings in five other companies. In May 2007 it sold 8% of TeliaSonera to institutional investors.

Swedish institutions and companies own 18.2% of the company, which came about through a 2002 merger between Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera, while the Finnish state owns 13.7%, the report said.