TeliaSonera CEO hints at future Telenor-style mergers, as European weakness weighs on earnings

TeliaSonera president and CEO Johan Dennelind hinted that further deals along the lines of the company's planned Danish joint venture with Telenor are on the cards, as the operator revealed net income fell 7 per cent year on year in 2014.

Joohan Denneline, TeliaSonera president and CEO

Johan Dennelind, TeliaSonera president and CEO

The Sweden-headquartered operator recorded a marginal--0.8 per cent--decline in net sales through 2014, a 7.3 per cent drop in operating income to SEK22.6 billion (€2.4 billion/$2.7 billion), and a 7 per cent decline in net income to SEK15.5 billion.

Figures for the fourth quarter of 2014 reveal a 0.2 per cent rise in net sales compared to the same period in 2013, and a 0.8 per cent drop in operating income to SEK4.5 billion. Net income for the quarter grew 6.5 per cent year on year to SEK2.8 billion.

Fourth-quarter earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 1.4 per cent to SEK8.6 billion, while the full year figure was down 1 per cent year on year at SEK35.2 billion.

In the operator's earnings statement, Dennelind blamed the fourth-quarter EBITDA drop on a challenging macro-economic environment in Europe and Asia (Eurasia), which hit TeliaSonera's service revenues during the period.

"In Eurasia, profitability declined slightly compared to the corresponding period last year, as increased uncertainty regarding overall economic growth impacted our operations in key markets like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan," Dennelind stated.

The president and CEO also hinted that further mergers and acquisitions, like the deal agreed with Telenor in December to merge the two operators' Danish operations, are being examined. "We continue to seek structural opportunities within our footprint with the aim to strengthen our core operations," he said, adding that the Danish market "has been in obvious need for consolidation".

More concrete future developments include "a further push for fibre in Sweden, new B2B solutions and upgrade of networks across our footprint," Dennelind said.

The operator faces fierce competition for its enterprise-level services in Sweden, Reuters reported, adding that TeliaSonera's fourth-quarter EBITDA figure fell short of the SEK8.8 billion predicted in a poll of analysts.

For more:
- see TeliaSonera's earnings statement [PDF]
- view this Reuters report

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