21 March 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Telenor has agreed to sell its businesses in four eastern European countries to a financial services company, PPF, for €2.8 billion.
The deal includes Telenor’s wholly owned mobile
operations in the four countries as well as a technology
service provider. The businesses represent 9% of the
CEO Sigve Brekke said: "Following this transaction, Telenor's
footprint will consist of integrated fixed and mobile
operations in Scandinavia, and strong mobile positions in Asia.
Telenor is confident that PPF Group’s experience
in both the region and sector will make it a good owner of the
CEE [central and eastern Europe] assets."
PPF is a privately owned group whose interests lie mainly in
financial services. It has assets worth €35 billion. It is
based in Prague though now its head office is in Amsterdam.
Five years ago it bought the former O2 Czech Republic
– a fixed and mobile operator – from
Telefónica and earlier this year it bought
Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting.
Ladislav Bartoníček, the shareholder responsible
for telecommunications assets within PPF, said: "With this
purchase, PPF Group is expanding its telecommunications
portfolio to four more countries, and fulfilling our long-held
goal to become a mid-sized European operator and to use our
experience to strengthen our market position."
Telenor said it would use some of the proceeds to pay a special
dividend to shareholders. CFO Jørgen Arentz Rostrup
saikd: "The special dividend will come on top of an
all-time-high ordinary dividend and the recently executed
buyback programme. We are currently focusing on developing our
existing assets and driving digital transformation. In the
coming years, we believe there will be value accretive
opportunities within our core business areas and
The sale includes some of Telenor’s oldest
possessions. It entered the Hungarian market in 1994 when it
bought what was then Pannon, before expanding to Montenegro in
1996, Serbia in 2006 and Bulgaria in 2013.