TeliaSonera given permission to buy LMT, but not Lattelekom

11 May 2006

Latvia’s Economy Minister Aigars Stokenbergs has said the government will give TeliaSonera permission to acquire 100% of the country’s leading mobile operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT), but it will not sell its majority stake in fixed line incumbent Lattelekom, according to business daily Dienas Bizness. Stokenbergs, in his second month on the job, said he had telephoned TeliaSonera Vice President Kenneth Karlberg directly to inform him of the decision.

TeliaSonera owns 49% of Lattelekom, with the state controlling the remaining 51%, and a 49% direct stake in LMT. The remaining LMT shares are held by Lattelekom (23%), the Ministry of Transport (5%) and Digitalais Latvijas Radio and Television (23%). In July 2005 it was revealed that TeliaSonera was keen to acquire the state’s holding in both Lattlekom and LMT, at which point the state announced that it would set up a working group to examine the possibilities. It has decided that whilst LMT is surplus to requirements, Lattelekom should continue to be state owned and run. ‘Let it be fully clear to both Swedes and Latvians. The answer is an absolute, crystal-clear ‘no’, they won’t get Lattelekom,’ Stokenbergs told the paper. He said that talks over a sale of LMT would take place, with the two parties needing to decide on a price for the stake.