TeliaSonera concessions clear Tele2 Norway acquisition

Nordic operator TeliaSonera has been given the go-ahead by regulators to complete its proposed acquisition of Tele2’s Norwegian assets for Swedish krona 4.5 billion on a cash and debt free basis.The approval from the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA), however, didn’t come without some heavy concessions.

The remedies include the sale of TeliaSonera-owned Network Norway’s network, spectrum and customer base to ICE, as well as the infrastructure of Tele2 Norway effectively also ending the network sharing agreement between ICE and Tele2. It seems ICE benefits nicely from this deal as further conditions included allowing network access to MVNOs and offering Tele2 retail outlets for sale to ICE.

“I am pleased that the Norwegian Competition Authority sees the advantages with this transaction,” TeliaSonera’s President and CEO Johan Dennelind said. “This is good, not only for our and Tele2’s customers, but also for Norway as a whole. We will be a stronger and more credible alternative to Telenor on their home market. We will now further accelerate the roll-out of mobile internet.”

Swedish Tele2 has been keen to exit Norway since its unsuccessful bidding in the country’s spectrum auction in December 2013, where new market-entrant ICE grabbed the biggest pot in a surprise win. The NCA previously nearly blocked the TeliaSonera-Tele2 transaction from going ahead on anti-competition grounds as the move reduces the number of operators in the country from three to two.

“Competition for Norwegian mobile customers occurs primarily between companies with their own mobile network,” the NCA’s Director General Christine Meyer observed. “The final commitments offered by TeliaSonera provide the basis for the development of a third mobile network in Norway. For that reason, we can now clear this acquisition.”

Apparently, the NCA still believes three operators would be an ideal situation for the Norwegian market. “In our discussions with TeliaSonera, the Competition Authority made it clear that a third network operator with a certain customer base is vital to ensure continued competition on price and quality,” NCA Director Gjermund Nese said.

“The commitments offered by TeliaSonera provide a real opportunity for a third mobile network operator to enter the market and to compete for Norwegian mobile customers.”

TeliaSonera said its service by the summer will be available to 4.5 million Norwegians, representing 90% of the population and 370 municipalities. The NCA requires the operator to reach 98% 4G population coverage by the end of next year but TeliaSonera claimed it will achieve the goal way ahead of time.

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