France Telecom needs to up its bid for TeliaSonera

Having finally made a bid for TeliaSonera, France Telecom (FT) is now being lambasted by the analyst community for pitching the price much too low. The offer of SKr56.22 for each TeliaSonera share is seen as needing to be above SKr60 to grab the attention of the major shareholders.

However, FT is determined to play hard ball claiming it won't raise the offer and is prepared to walk away unless there is a positive answer within 15 days. 'We have other options', said FT CEO, Didier Lombard.

Adding to the sense of mystery, Lombard hinted that FT might be prepared to alter certain "non-monetary" elements of the scheme, but declined to say what these would be.

Two major shareholders in TeliaSonera, the Swedish and Finnish governments, are said to be relaxed about the situation and speculated that FT's bid would encourage higher bids from other telecoms firms.

The Swedish government has the added political pressure of having sold shares in TeliaSonera to nearly 10 per cent of the population in an initial public offering at SKr85 each. One banker close to the deal has warned that, unless a much higher bid is made, this public embarrassment could see the Swedish government declining to accept FT's SKr56 offer.

For more on this story:
- read AFX News and The FT

Related stories:
France Telecom up against Swedish Army over TeliaSonera sale. FT story
France Telecom bids $42 billion for TeliaSonera. FT bid story