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Sonera and Telia Confirm Merger Talks
HELSINKI, Finland - Northern European telco giants Sonera and Telia confirmed Monday that they are discussing a possible merger of the two state-controlled telecommunications groups.
Sonera shares rose as high as 10 percent in early trading, closing up 2.3 percent at 5.83 euros (dlrs 5.11) in the Finnish capital. Telia finished 1 percent higher at 39.70 Swedish kronor (dlrs 3.86) on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
Neither company was willing to discuss poissible outcomes.
Sonera has more 2.4 million wireless subscribers across Finland and operates more than 770,000 land lines. The company, formerly known as Telecom Finland, also has a fiber optic network that runs from Russia to the United States. The Finnish government holds a 53 percent take in Sonera.
Stockholm, Sweden-based Telia, which was partially privatized in June 2000, employs 25,000 people. Its net sales were 57.1 billion kronor (dlrs 5.4 billion) in 2001, up 6 percent from 2000. The company offers local and long-distance calling and has more than 6 million fixed lines. It also counts more than 4.5 million mobile users in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Swedish government has a 71 percent stake in Telia.
Sonera has been plagued by resignations and reports of internal disputes over corporate strategy. It also has been criticized for expensive investments and debt after spending 4 billion euros (dlrs 3.7 billion) on next generation wireless licenses in western Europe.
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