Sweden’s Tele2 has confirmed that it is ‘in the process of evaluating a number of strategic opportunities for its Norwegian operations’. In making the announcement, it was revealed that ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA has been hired to advise on the different options, which are said to include: entering a strategic partnership; divesting Tele2 Norge to one or several parties; or continuing growing the business organically within the Tele2 Group. Commenting on the matter, Mats Granryd, CEO and president of Tele2, was cited as saying: ‘As previously communicated we are evaluating our different opportunities for our Norwegian businesses. Exploring various strategic options is an on-going part of our responsibility towards our shareholders. However, we cannot speculate on the potential outcomes of any such discussions.’ Tele2 was, meanwhile, keen to stress that it has made no decision regarding the fate of its Norwegian unit as yet, saying that further announcements would be made ‘as and when appropriate’.
The development comes in the wake of the late-January 2014 announcement which saw Tele2 reveal it would halt network investment at Tele2 Norge from March. As reported by CommsUpdate, the move came after the company failed to secure any new spectrum in the government’s multi-band frequency auction, which concluded in December 2013. With many surprised that Tele2 Norge did not secure additional spectrum, it had been questioned how it would be able to expand considering the rollout of more advanced technologies, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE). Speaking on the matter at the time, Tele2 Norge CEO Arild Hustad was cited as saying: ‘We’re working to find a long-term structural solution following the outcome of the frequency auction’, with the executive reportedly arguing that the stop placed on network construction is a necessary step to remain competitive until it finalises its future plans. Meanwhile, last month it was suggested that Tele2 was in talks with Access Industries, which did acquire LTE-suitable frequencies in the spectrum auction at the end of 2013, with a number of options said to be under discussion, among which was the possibility of Access selling its spectrum to Tele2; it was claimed though that this option might only proceed on the condition that Tele2 also purchase Asset-owned Norwegian mobile broadband provider Ice.net (formerly Nordisk Mobiltelefon). Another option said to be under discussion would be for Access to acquire Tele2 Norge, though price could prove a sticking point, with Access keen not to overspend on such a purchase. Finally, an agreement under which Tele2 leased access to the frequencies in question is also said to be under consideration.