Barnekow leaves Telia after declining revenues, with group CEO Dennelind taking over

09 April 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Telia Company’s group CEO Johan Dennelind has taken over running the Swedish operation following the resignation of Hélène Barnekow.

A statement from the company this morning said that Dennelind “will temporarily assume the role of CEO of Telia Sweden until a permanent solution is in place”.

In the 2017 annual report Telia said the Swedish business accounted for 46% of the group’s revenues in 2017, and that Swedish sales were down 2.6% year on year while revenues were 4.3% down..

Neither Dennelind nor Barnekow gave any explanation for her rapid departure, though Swedish media had been talking about cost-cutting measures in the company for some time.

“My tenure at Telia has been characterised by the immense ongoing changes of the telecom market,” she said. “Despite a tough market situation, we have grown our consumer business and stabilised our enterprise business, while also implementing a large transformation programme to secure Telia Sweden for the future.”

In the company’s annual report for 2017 Dennelind wrote: “We have reduced operational expenses in Sweden in the second half of 2017 as we set out to do. We are on track to reach our ambition for the group of reducing overall costs by SEK 1.1 billion [€106 million] on net basis for 2018.”

Observers point to Barnekow’s nomination as a director of Malta-based, but Scandinavian-owned, online gambling company Kindred, as indicating she was looking to a post-Telia future.

At the end of March Swedish business newspaper Dagens Industri hinted that her Kindred nomination indicated that Telia’s “Swedish operations are about to get a new boss”. The betting company, formerly Unibet, announced her nomination on 27 March and it will be considered at a shareholders’ meeting on 15 May.

Today Dagens Industri reported that Barnekow had told it: “Some day you should go.” The newspaper added: “Several sources indicate that she was forced away,” but said that Barnekow insisted “it was her own initiative”.

Barnekow joined Telia in April 2014 as chief commercial officer and became CEO of Telia Sweden in June 2015. Earlier in her career she had global marketing roles at EMC and Sony Ericsson.

Dennelind said: “Hélène Barnekow has initiated an extensive change agenda in our Swedish operations and accelerated the digital transformation of Telia Sweden. Her strong customer focus has contributed positively to our journey to become a new generation telco. Hélène´s drive and enthusiasm has been a positive force of change in Telia. I wish her all the best in the future.”