Telia pressured to look at divestment in Central Asia, sources reckon

11 Mar 2013

Swedish telecoms heavyweight TeliaSonera is under ‘political pressure’ to consider potential sales of assets in Central Asia worth up to USD8.5 billion, unnamed sources were quoted as saying by TMT Finance. TeliaSonera’s mobile subsidiaries include Ucell in Uzbekistan, Tcell in Tajikistan, K’cell in Kazakhstan and Ncell in Nepal. The unidentified sources said that no banks had yet been appointed and no formal process was yet in motion, although one banker said a sale would be politically driven by TeliaSonera’s major shareholder, the Swedish government, seeking to distance itself from the group’s recent controversy in Uzbekistan. Lars Nyberg resigned as CEO of TeliaSonera last month after a review found that the company had failed to carry out proper background checks and conduct due diligence on local Uzbek partner Takilant. ‘There’s been a lot of noise around this topic and the management is under pressure due to investigations around corruption,’ said the banking source, adding that ‘the rationale is questionable, but when political momentum is building in one direction, it is difficult to stop.’

Sweden, Uzbekistan, Telia Company, Ucell (Coscom)