Army frowns on TeliaSonera sale plan

22 May 2008

The Swedish military has issued a warning that the government’s planned sale of a stake in incumbent telco TeliaSonera to a strategic foreign buyer could compromise national security, according to the UK’s Financial Times (FT). ‘Any owner, domestic or foreign, of TeliaSonera must be thoroughly investigated from a security point of view. An owner that is not trustworthy could use its knowledge to damage Sweden,’ said Per Nilsson, head of the country’s armed forces command, control and communications division. According to the military, a company with management control of the operator could access secret locations of military hardware and access internal communications channels. The government is awaiting a report from the armed forces, due on 13 June, addressing possible security implications of a sale. According to the FT, the report is expected to suggest that security concerns can be alleviated by a thorough investigation of the buyer or by breaking up TeliaSonera in such a way that infrastructure under military usage does not fall into the private owner’s hands. Another potential option is building new infrastructure exclusively for military use. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database says that the Swedish government is the largest shareholder in TeliaSonera with a holding of 37.3%, whilst the Finnish government has 13.7%; the remainder is distributed.

Sweden, Telia Company, Telia Sweden