Telenor, TeliaSonera wind down Danish team established to lead merger efforts

Telenor said a management team established to run its planned joint venture with TeliaSonera in Denmark is now in the process of shutting the project down.

Hilde Tonne, a member of Telenor Group's executive management team and head of group industrial development, took on the role of programme manager for a small team of staff from Telenor and TeliaSonera on Aug. 1. The Copenhagen-based team was tasked with paving the way for the operators' full-blown merger of their Danish businesses, the duo explained in a joint statement announcing the move in July.

However, the companies' subsequent decision to abandon their merger in the face of strong opposition from European Commission (EC) regulators means the team is now winding down, a Telenor spokesperson told FierceWireless:Europe.

"Hilde Tonne will together with a few employees be responsible for closing down the project," the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to FW:E.

A TeliaSonera spokesperson told a similar story, explaining in an emailed statement that the company continues "to run Telia Denmark with the management team that was in place before, during and now after the proposed merger."

Telia Denmark CEO Soren Abildgaard and CFO Dennis Kilian had been lined up to become the joint venture's deputy CEO and CFO respectively. However, unlike Tonne, the Telia executives were due to assume their new responsibilities once the planned merger had been approved, which at the time the companies still expected to take place during the second half of 2015.

TeliaSonera announced earlier this month that the companies had dropped their plan as talks with the EC had "reached a point where it is no longer possible to gain approval for the proposed transaction." The operator explained that the conditions the EC had placed on the merger meant it would not be possible to create "a robust mobile operator" in Denmark.

The Danish merger would have reduced the number of operators in the market from four to three. While the operators had cause to be optimistic of gaining approval based on the EC's previous clearance of similar deals in Germany and Ireland, their difficulty in achieving approval hinted at a change in attitude from EC competition authorities.

Analysts said that apparent change casts doubt on pending mergers in other EU markets, including CK Hutchison's plans to combine Three UK with O2 UK, and Three Italy with Wind Italy.

For more:
- see Telenor and TeliaSonera's joint statement from July

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