Swedes, French decline to comment on FT-Telia takeover possibility

16 Apr 2008

Shares in TeliaSonera (Telia) rose the fastest in more than three years on the Stockholm bourse following a report that France Telecom (FT) is studying the possibility of launching a takeover bid for the Swedish telecoms group. Bloomberg reports that Telia’s stock climbed by as much as 6.9%, the most since October 2004, whilst FT fell by as much as 2.8% in Paris trading. The Swedish government has said it plans to sell shares in Telia, which has a market value of SEK201.2 billion (USD33.8 billion), as part of plans to sell state assets worth at least SEK200 billion by the end of 2010 to cut debt. Sweden raised SEK18 billion in May 2007 by selling an 8% slice of Telia for SEK18 billion to institutional investors, leaving it with 37.3%, whilst Finland’s government owns 13.7%; the remainder is distributed. Thomson Financial reports that a France Telecom spokesman declined to comment on an unsourced report in the French daily Le Figaro that FT is considering a possible share swap deal to take over the Scandinavian group and create Europe’s largest telco. Le Figaro also said the French government, which owns 27.6% of FT, is also studying the matter. Reuters writes that the Swedish government declined to comment this morning on Le Figaro’s report, quoting Finance Ministry spokeswoman Mia Widell as saying: ‘We never comment on these kind of rumours.’

Sweden, Orange Group, Telia Company