TeliaSonera bails out Spain's Xfera

Xfera Moviles' UMTS license won't be revoked by the Spanish government after all. In a surprise move, TeliaSonera has reached an agreement to increase its ownership in the beleaguered 3G licensee from 16.5 percent to 80 percent and plans to roll out a nationwide UMTS network. Xfera received its UMTS license in 2000 but failed to launch services. This resulted in the local communications regulator issuing several "final warnings," including threats to withdraw the fourth operator's license. The Spanish government revised 3G licensing terms last year to give 3G licensees, including Xfera, greater leeway when deploying their networks. But the company's business partnerships continued to fall apart and the Spanish government began proceedings to revoke Xfera's 3G license. Last year, TeliaSonera actually abandoned Xfera to invest in the Commonwealth of Independent States, ceding the voting rights for its 16.5 percent interest in the firm to fellow 32 percent shareholder Builder ACS. Meanwhile, Vodafone sold its 6.98 percent stake in the company to the remaining shareholders in April 2004.

"We believe that there now are opportunities to make use of Xfera's UMTS license in combination with GSM national roaming," said Anders Igel, president and CEO of TeliaSonera. "The market conditions in Spain give room for another player. This, together with decreasing vendor prices as well as availability of good quality and reasonably priced 3G terminals, provides us with an opportunity to establish ourselves in a new market."

To read more about TeliaSonera's increased ownership in Xfera:
- check out this release from TeliaSonera