After losing 4G bid, Tele2 Norway sells up to TeliaSonera

Swedish mobile network operator Tele2 has agreed to sell its Norwegian operations to rival TeliaSonera.

TeliaSonera has announced plans to acquire its rival in Norway Tele2 for 5.1bn SEK ($746m), leaving the country with two operators in control of 90 percent of the mobile market.

Tele2, the third largest mobile operator in Norway, has agreed to sell its operations in the country following a review of its business there after failing to secure high-bandwidth mobile spectrum in last December's licence auction.

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"The competitive constraints we faced without resources on the multiband frequency required us to evaluate different options for our Norwegian businesses. Whilst we have not been able to complete our originally desired strategy, the proposed deal is good for our customers, shareholders and for Tele2 as a whole," Mats Granryd, president and CEO of Tele2, said.

Telenor and TeliaSonera's Norwegian brand NetCom, as expected, won bids for spectrum, while Tele2 was trumped by a mystery bidder, later revealed to be Access Industries — a holding company owned by Ukraine-American billionaire Len Blavatnik.

Access also owns Nordic mobile broadband operator, which has customers across Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Tele2 was reportedly in talks this February with Access Industries to save it operations in the country.

The deal, which leaves Norway with two main players, still needs approval by the country's regulators, however Telia and Tele2 are confident it will close by the first quarter of 2015 at the latest.

TeliaSonera also announced plans to accelerate its 4G rollout to reach 98 percent of the population by 2016 instead of the original 2018 deadline.

TeliaSonera will bring forward 300m SEK in capital expenditure to fund the accelerated two-year 4G rollout between 2015 and 2016.

With Tele2's subscribers, TeliaSonera will nearly double its share of mobile subscriptions from 23 percent to 40 percent, giving it a total of 2.7 million subscribers. Telenor's 3.2 million mobile subscribers represent around a 50 percent share.

TeliaSonera said it expects cost savings of at least 800m SEK from 2016, mainly as a result of transferring Tele2's traffic to its own network.

Access could stand to gain from the deal if regulators force TeliaSonera to sell Tele2's network, according to Reuters.

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