TeliaSonera bids for Polkomtel

Dominant Nordic telco TeliaSonera has confirmed a bid for Polish operator Polkomtel, joining a rumoured ten other operators (including Spain’s Telefonica and Norway’s Telenor) looking to expand into the area.

Polkomtel, which operates as Plus in Poland, offers voice and 3G wireless services to a customer base in excess of 14 million and is owned by five shareholders, including Vodafone. The latter’s 24.4 percent stake gave it first-refusal on the remaining shares but it has been clear for some time that the UK-headquartered carrier would not be taking that option; last year it separated its Polkomtel shareholding out from the rest of its European division, indicating that a sale was imminent. The value of any potential Polkomtel deal has been estimated at $5 billion.

Vodafone’s 2010 strategy of divesting and streamlining operations in order to play to regional strengths saw it offloading its 3.2 percent stake in the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile, in September last year while stakes in Verizon Wireless and French carrier SFR joined Polkomtel and Bharti Infotel outside its reformed organisational units.

TeliaSonera operates in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Latvia and Estonia and was the first telco in the region to offer the iPhone. It has over 150 million customers in the region and was the first operator in the world to commercially launch 4G.

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