Telia sells stake in Tajikistan’s Tcell for $39M

Johan Dennelind, CEO and president of Telia in Sweden

Telia continued its strategy of divesting its operations in the Eurasia region with the sale of its 60 per cent stake in Tajikistan-based operator Tcell for $39 million (€34.69 million) to existing shareholder, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).

The Sweden-based company first revealed plans to ultimately exit the Eurasian market in September last year in order to focus on its operations in the Nordics and Baltics. The move is designed to bring to an end a chapter that has created significant upheaval at Telia, including senior management and board personnel changes.

Telia already agreed to sell its 60.4 per cent stake in Nepalese operator Ncell to Asian telecoms group Axiata for $1.03 billion. As well as Nepal and Tajikistan, it currently has investments in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.

In February, Turkcell also made a binding offer for TeliaSonera's 58.55 per cent stake in Fintur Holdings, which co-owns the stakes in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Moldova. Turkcell owns 41.45 per cent of Fintur.

In January this year Telia said it would book SEK7.2 billion (€757 million/$850 million) in total non-cash impairment charges for the fourth quarter of 2015, with the bulk related to its operations in Uzbekistan. TeliaSonera reported "Region Eurasia" as discontinued operations in its financial report for 2015.

Of the total impairment charges, SEK5.3 billion relates to Uzbekistan and SEK1.9 billion to the operations in Denmark due to withdrawal from the proposed joint venture there with Telenor.

Johan Dennelind, president and CEO of Telia, said the divestment of Tcell was “in line with our ambition to reduce our presence in Eurasia and increase focus on our operations in the Nordics and Baltics. AKFED has been a significant shareholder in Tcell since inception, and I am convinced that they will be able to further develop the company.”

AKFED is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and works in partnership with international organisations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies. It has multiple companies in its current portfolio.

For more:
- see the Telia release

Related articles:
Turkcell makes binding offer for TeliaSonera's Fintur Holding stake
TeliaSonera makes €733M write-down on Eurasia, Danish operations
TeliaSonera begins Eurasian exit with $1B Nepal deal
TeliaSonera's Eurasia exit opens M&A opportunities for others