Nordic telecoms giant TeliaSonera yesterday reported a massive 76% hike in pre-tax profit to SEK5.49 billion (EUR600 million) for the three months to the end of June 2004 and then told shareholders to expect a considerable increase in dividend payments. The operator said total sales reached SEK20.59 billion (EUR2.25 billion), up 2% on the corresponding period of 2003, whilst net income rose by 104% to SEK3.15 billion. Commenting on the buoyant results, chief executive Anders Igel said that his company plans to return SEK30 billion (USD3.9 billion) to investors between 2005 and 2007, but warned that this figure could be reduced in the event of the company making any substantial acquisitions in the interim. Just last month TeliaSonera agreed to buy Orange Denmark for EUR600 million.
Mr Igel told reporters that the continued migration of subscribers away from traditional telephone lines and toward wireless and IP-based solutions would lead to flat sales returns from its core operations in the Nordic and Baltic regions over the next couple of years. Although he maintained that the company had managed to maintain its market positions in Sweden and Finland, this was achieved at the expense of lower margins; the company’s EBITDA margin decreased to 35.6% from 39.8% during the three-month period. Mr Igel also said that he expected TeliaSonera’s wireless subsidiaries in emerging markets across Europe to continue to experience substantial growth, in particular its operations in Turkey (Turkcell), Russia (MegaFon), Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Moldova (all Fintur Eurasia). At the end of June TeliaSonera had a total customer base of 22.8 million, a rise of 9% on the end of March.