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Telia has announced it will acquire Bonnier Broadcasting – including TV4, C More and Finnish MTV – from Bonnier AB for SEK 9.2 billion.
Telia is focused on supplying a full range of mobile, fixed line and TV operations in the Nordic- and Baltic markets after retreating from central Asia, according to Mundus News. The acquisition is a natural next step to complement Telia Company’s core business, where our millions of customers give us a very strong position in the market. Together with TV4 we will serve customers and viewers in new ways and create new business opportunities,” says Johan Dennelind, President and CEO of Telia Company in a press release.
Bonnier Broadcasting, owned by the prominent Swedish Bonnier family, includes brands such as Swedish TV4 and streaming service C More and Finnish MTV (further reading on Sweden’s most prominent financial families is available in the Mundus web shop).
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed during the second half of 2019. The purchase of Bonnier Broadcasting by Telia would significantly alter the Swedish media landscape (Read more about the Swedish media landscape here). The reason for this is that the Swedish state owns 37 per cent of Telia, making it the largest owner of the telecom company. As the state already indirectly controls Sveriges Television (SVT), the acquisition would mean that all free-to-air TV channels would be indirectly controlled by the Swedish State. This is particularly controversial as TV4 was initially given licence to operate in order to counteract a state monopoly.
Svantesson (M): “The state must sell Telia”
Dagens Industri reported on 20 July that the Moderate Party’s Fiscal Spokesperson, Elisabeth Svantesson, claims that the deal sheds light on the fact that Telia should be sold, so that it is not owned by the state. “This is an inappropriate deal. It is deeply problematic that the state, with this deal, will become the dominant owner on the media market. That is something that would be considered very inappropriate in other countries,” said Svantesson. The Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg (S), is also critical of the deal, and claims to be in talks with Telia. He has not, however, openly considered selling Telia, as the conservative opposition is arguing.
Further reading and analysis in the July edition of the Monthly Policy Review