Swedish telco Tele2 AB [London: TEL2bq.L] has made its first foray into the UK telecoms market via the acquisition of Alpha Telecom for approximately EUR85 million. Alpha provides ‘pay as you go’ fixed line services and claims to sell around 1.25 million pre-paid calling cards per month in 60,000 outlets across the UK. It had revenues of around EUR200 million in 2002, a 30% increase compared to 2001. Tele2 CEO Lars-Johan Jarnheimer said the purchase of Alpha Telecom was in line with his company’s strategy to enter the UK market in stages; he said that Tele2 plans to replicate Alpha’s product concept in other major European markets. Tele2 AB, formerly NetCom, is a Swedish telecoms holding company operating fixed line telephony, ADSL, internet and cellular services across Europe. It divides its operations into five geographical markets – the Nordic region, eastern Europe and Russia, central Europe, southern Europe and Luxembourg – and at the end of 2002 was active in 21 countries and had a combined customer base of around 17 million. Almost half of Tele2’s turnover is generated by its operations in the Nordic region, with the main contributor being its domestic market. It is Sweden’s leading alternative fixed line operator, presiding over its own network infrastructure in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo; Tele2 also has an agreement with Sweden’s National Rail Administration, which allows the telco to use its 2,500km fibre-optic network.