Dennelind to leave Telia after more than six years as CEO

Dennelind to leave Telia after more than six years as CEO

05 August 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Johan Dennelind has resigned as CEO of the Telia group, but will not leave until 2020.

He announced his departure to his 3,474 followers on Twitter on Sunday afternoon, and the news was confirmed by Telia on its website.

“It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to lead this company through radical change in our strive to have the most engaged employees bringing the world closer,” he wrote, praising the “world class services” that made a “positive impact on society”.

Dennelind, who became CEO in September 2013, gave no reason for his decision. He said: “We are well down this road and journey and I feel time has come for me to move on,” though he added: “I will still serve as CEO as long as my board wants me to. We have more things to get done and to create value for our shareholders.”

Marie Ehrling, chair of the board of directors, said: “During his six years as CEO, Johan has vigorously worked with the repositioning of Telia Company. The culture and strategy of the company have changed fundamentally and Telia is today a company with strong business focus that truly represents responsible business.”

Dennelind, a former Vodacom executive, was appointed in place of Lars Nyberg when Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling confirmed the details of a corrupt relationship between the daughter of a former president of Uzbekistan and Telia’s purchase of a licence to operate in the central Asian country.

The company ended up paying fines of almost $1 billion for its involvement in Uzbek corruption. 

Since taking office Dennelind has worked hard to unravel Telia’s business in Uzbekistan and other countries outside the Nordic region.

“Johan’s strong and brave leadership has been crucial for this transformation,” said Ehrling, who appointed him in 2013. “The board and I regret that Johan has chosen to leave the company, but at the same time we respect his decision to take a new step in his career.”

She said: “We have had several difficult and tough situations to address and the fact that Johan has always acted with strength and wisdom has been of great importance for the development of Telia. Johan has assured the board that he will continue in his present role with full force as long as it is needed during his notice period. This secures continuity and focus on several important projects and processes in the company.”

Dennelind gave no hints about his plans. “I now have decided to leave Telia and take on new challenges.”

He became a management trainee in Telia in 1995 and then director of business development in Telia Sweden. He then moved to the Telenor group where he was successively CFO, chief commercial officer and CEO of DiGi Telecommunications in Kuala Lumpur. He had two and a half years in South Africa as CEO of Vodafone’s Vodacom International, before returning to Stockholm to lead Telia out of its difficulties.

Previous CEO Nyberg now describes himself on LinkedIn as a “TeliaSonera pensioner”, based in Lisbon. His career details have been removed.