TeliaSonera is now able to implement its expansion plans for Norway after the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) approved the Sweden-based group's plan to acquire the Norwegian operations of Tele2.
Johan Dennelind, TeliaSonera president and CEO
The NCA noted that approval is subject to concessions, including the conclusion of a roaming agreement with new entrant Ice Communication Norge and the sale of Tele2's mobile network and Network Norway to Ice. Network Norway is part of Tele2 and has about 90,000 business subscriptions.
Because the customer base of Network Norway is to be sold to Ice, TeliaSonera and Tele2 have agreed to adjust the enterprise value from SEK5.1 billion (€539 million/$616 million) to SEK4.5 billion on a cash and debt free basis. TeliaSonera also reiterated its intention to provide 98 per cent 4G population coverage in Norway next year--two years ahead of its rollout obligations.
The NCA ruling appears to reverse the competition authority's previous stance on the deal, and comes shortly after TeliaSonera offered new remedies to guarantee strong competition in Norway. Those remedies appear to have allayed fears that a merger of TeliaSonera's Norwegian unit with Mobile Norway would carve up the mobile market between two strong players--including incumbent Telenor.
"Competition for Norwegian mobile customers occurs primarily between companies with their own mobile network. The final commitments offered by TeliaSonera provide the basis for the development of a third mobile network in Norway. For that reason, we can now clear this acquisition," said NCA director general Christine Meyer.
TeliaSonera president and CEO Johan Dennelind said he was pleased that the competition authority saw the advantages of the transaction.
"This is good, not only for our and Tele2's customers, but also for Norway as a whole. We will be a stronger and more credible alternative to Telenor on their home market. We will now further accelerate the rollout of mobile Internet," Dennelind added.
Ice Communication Norway AS was originally founded as Telco Data. Along with Ice Norway AS (ice.net) it is wholly owned by AINMT Scandinavia Holdings AB, which also owns Net1 in Sweden and Denmark and is part of the international industrial group Access Industries.
Telco Data acquired spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands in the Norwegian frequency licence auction in December 2013. Tele2 Norway's future was thrown into doubt after it failed to win any spectrum during the auction.
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