Sweden’s government launched a sale this morning of an 8% stake in the country’s largest telecoms operator TeliaSonera via an accelerated book-building share offer. The telco, which has group operations across the Nordic region and the world, is currently 45.3% state-owned. The sale, under the management of advisors Deutsche Bank and UBS, is only open to institutional investors, and is expected to end at 16:00 GMT tomorrow, the government said in a statement. The sale is part of government plans to sell parts of its holdings in three listed firms – TeliaSonera, Nordea and OMX – and to privatise three fully state-owned companies – drinks group Vin & Sprit, which owns Absolut vodka, mortgage firm SBAB and real estate group Vasakrona. ‘I am happy now to be able to present the first step in reducing state ownership,’ Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell said, adding that ‘…we will reduce our holding in TeliaSonera in a responsible way, at the same time keeping our lead ownership and [retain] negotiating freedom for different strategic paths.’ The centre-right government had promised not to sell further TeliaSonera shares before April next year without the approval of UBS and Deutsche, it added. Nordic investment bank Carnegie is to assist in the process as a selling agent. The previous Social Democratic government opened up state-owned companies for private ownership in the 1990s, but maintained a strong influence on them by keeping large share holdings. The sale is expected to raise nearly EUR2.2 billion (USD3 billion) for state coffers. Following the news, TeliaSonera shares fell 4.6% to EUR5.72 when the Stockholm bourse opened this morning.