Telenor sells digital TV firm for €180M; faces antitrust probe

Telenor has sold Conax, which provides encryption and content security for digital TV, to Switzerland's Kudelski, for 1.5 billion Norwegian crowns (€180 million/$248 million), the Norwegian operator said on Wednesday.

The move forms part of the company's plan to focus on its core business of telecoms. The transaction is expected to close in April, and Telenor will report a gain of around 1.3 billion crowns.

Kudelski, which provides security technology for digital TV, broadband and mobile devices, said the acquisition would complement its existing business.

Meanwhile it was also confirmed on Wednesday that Telenor faces a formal antitrust probe in Europe into whether it used its dominant position to harm rivals.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority, the agency in charge of supervising Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein's compliance with European rules, confirmed it has opened formal antitrust proceedings against Telenor Norge and its parent company Telenor.

"The Authority will examine whether Telenor has charged prices resulting in an illegal margin squeeze on its competitors in respect of the provision of retail mobile data services and of bundles of retail mobile telecommunications services," EFTA stated, adding: "The Authority also intends to investigate whether clauses in Telenor's retail agreements concluded with customers for the supply of mobile telecommunications services give rise to market foreclosure concerns."

Telenor confirmed in December 2012 that the EFTA Surveillance Authority, and the Norwegian Competition Authority had raided the offices of Telenor Norge and Telenor regarding possible abuse of dominant market position and/or possible anti-competitive practices.

Telenor has been one of Europe's more successful operators during the recent difficult times, although it disappointed analysts with lower than expected EBITDA in the fourth quarter of 2013, despite growing the figure by nearly 10 per cent year on year. The company has around 160 million subscribers across Europe and Asia, and has been investing in Asia and Eastern Europe to compensate for slower growth in the Nordic region. The company has also signed a 15-year licence to provide communications services in Myanmar.

For more:
- see this Telenor release
- see this EFTA release
- see this Bloomberg article

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