Telenor sells operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia for €2.8bn
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 group’s revenues.
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 geographies.”
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.
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