Telenor appoints CEO in Denmark, continues to mull options for unit

Telenor said Jesper Hansen will officially take on the role of CEO at Telenor Denmark, as the operator continues to consider its options for the Danish business.

Hansen has served as interim CEO of Telenor Denmark since June 1 this year when he took over from Marek Slacik, who moved to the role of chief marketing officer at Telenor Sweden. Prior to that Hansen worked for 15 years within the Telenor Denmark management.

He was expected to hold the CEO position only until Telenor and TeliaSonera had completed the proposed merger of their respective Danish businesses into a joint venture. The two operators had already lined up a top management team for the combined unit, including Hilde Tonne as CEO designate.

However, that deal fell through in September when TeliaSonera and Telenor abandoned the merger plans after being unable to agree to concessions that would have alleviated European Commission (EC) competition concerns. Since then, Tonne has been responsible for winding down the joint venture project.

It's clear that Norway-based Telenor has still not yet decided which approach to take in the highly competitive Danish mobile market, as intimated by group president and CEO Sigve Brekke.

"At Telenor we are used to intensely competitive markets and customers with high expectations…Telenor Denmark is a flexible and customer-focused business that will contribute to innovation and smarter solutions throughout the group. We continue to look at several strategic options for our Danish business," said Brekke.

Telenor and TeliaSonera had wanted to improve their competitive position through the proposed merger in order to break the dominance of market leader TDC. However, the EC had been concerned that the combination of the two units would have effectively created a duopoly on the market.

Speaking at a conference in October, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said if the deal had materialised, "there would have been two large mobile operators -- the merged entity and the former national monopolist, TDC. Between them, they would have had around 80 per cent of the market. The third, smaller player would have been Hi3G [Three Denmark]."

Meanwhile Telenor continues to grapple with wider problems within the group as it deals with the ongoing investigations into its stake in VimpelCom. Last week, Telenor CFO Richard Olav Aa and general counsel Pål Wien Espen became the latest high-profile victims of the probe after both were suspended from their posts.

For more:
- see the Telenor Denmark release

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