Rumour Mill: TeliaSonera eyes Poland's Polkomtel

Nordic operator TeliaSonera has been looking eastwards for its future expansion for some time and its gaze appears now to have turned to Poland.

The company is understood to be interested in acquiring Polkomtel, Poland's second biggest mobile operator after Orange. However, TeliaSonera might have a fight on its hands, as Reuters reports that upwards of 50 companies have expressed interest in Polkomtel, including Turkcell and a number of investment banks.

At an estimated €4 billion ($5.33 billion), the deal could be Europe's biggest in the mobile and telecom sector since the onset of the global financial crisis, but the situation is clouded by the complex ownership of Polkomtel. Five companies have an interest in the operator, four of whom have some element of state ownership; the fifth is Vodafone, which has a 24.4 per cent shareholding.

Given Vodafone's recent policy of divesting its stakes in European mobile operations, it seems unlikely that the company would be interested in bidding for full ownership of Polkomtel. The other four, semi-public owners, are oil company PKN Orlen, which has a 24.4 per cent stake, two minerals firms, KGHM, whuch has a 24.4 per cent stake and Weglokoks with a 4 per cent stake, as well as energy grid supplier PGE, which owns a 21.9 per cent stake.

Whilst not confirming that the company would attempt a full acquisition a TeliaSonera spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires that Polkomtel's operations would give TeliaSonera good growth opportunities in mobile data, and would complement TeliaSonera's existing presence in the Nordics and Baltics. Polkomtel made a net profit of 979 million zlotys ($337 million) in 2009.

For more:
- see this Rethink Wireless article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article

Related Articles:
Vodafone preps sale of French and Polish holdings; mulls lift of Indian stake
Polish operators targeted by South Korean celcos
Vodafone: Investors look for sell-off progress with minority holdings