TeliaSonera completes Ncell sale, changes name to Telia

TeliaSonera said it has completed the previously announced sale of its Ncell operation in Nepal, which also represents a first step in the disposal of the company's assets in Eurasia.

The Finland-based operator -- which confirmed this week that it has officially changed its name to Telia Company after shareholders approved the move -- said in December that it had agreed to sell its 60.4 per cent stake in Ncell to Asian telecoms group Axiata for $1.03 billion (€907 million).

TeliaSonera explained that under Nepalese law, 20 per cent of the ownership in a company is required to be held locally by a Nepalese citizen. It said all arrangements between TeliaSonera a local owner that were entered into in 2012 lapsed in conjunction with closing.

In September 2015 the company said it planned to reduce its presence in seven Eurasian markets and focus on operations in the Nordics and Baltics, with the goal of creating a "new TeliaSonera". As well as Nepal, it currently has investments in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan.

The Eurasian unit has been marked as discontinued operations since Dec. 31, 2015. TeliaSonera has also previously said it would book a SEK7.2 billion (€784 million/$891 million) non-cash impairment charge as part of the exit plan. The bulk of the charge -- SEK5.3 billion -- related to its operations in Uzbekistan, the operator said.

In February, Turkcell also made a binding offer to acquire TeliaSonera's holding in Fintur, which co-owns the stakes in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Moldova. Turkcell, which currently owns 41.45 per cent of Fintur, would then own 100 per cent of the Eurasian company.

In the first quarter of 2016, the company reported a 1.1 per cent decline in revenue to SEK20.394 billion. In reported currency, EBITDA excluding non-recurring items increased 10.4 per cent to SEK6.2 billion. Total net income decreased by 4.9 per cent to SEK3.9 billion, of which SEK2.905 billion was from continuing operations and SEK1 billion was from discontinued operations.

For more:
- see this Telia release on Ncell
- see Telia Q1 results

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