The president of TeliaSonera’s Finnish operation Anni Vepsalainen has stepped down ‘on her own initiative’ in the wake of a drop in first quarter profits and growing protests over job cuts at the company. The division, which numbers around 6,700 staff, has been beset with strife since it announced in February plans to cut 650 jobs as part of a cost-cutting strategy to help realise annualised savings of USD128 million. The company says job losses have been forced upon it by stiff competition and a price war for mobile and broadband services.
The TeliaSonera group posted profits of SEK3.56 billion (USD507 million) in the three months to 31 March 2005, down from a revised SEK3.65 billion a year earlier. Sales rose by 5.2% to SEK20.8 billion, but the operator is cutting costs, lowering prices and looking for acquisitions to offset stagnation in the saturated Nordic market. Finland has become a particular problem for the group. Sales for Vepsalainen’s operation dipped by 10% to SEK4.1 billion and competition forced it to drop prices by 20% leading to a 47.5% decline in EBITDA to SEK887 million. The fight for market share in the Finnish mobile market also resulted in higher churn, which rose to 34% from 26% the previous quarter.