Telia Eyes Overseas Expansion as IPO Nears

STOCKHOLM (03/02/2000) - Buoyed by the Swedish government's recent decision to speed up preparations for a flotation of its shares, Telia AB yesterday outlined plans for future expansion in the international telecommunications arena as the carrier posted a mixed bag of results for fiscal 1999.

Telia's net income for fiscal 1999, ended Dec. 31, 1999, dropped to 4.2 billion kronor (US$483.9 million), or 480 kronor per share, from 5 billion kronor and 569 kronor per share, respectively, in fiscal 1998, the Swedish state-run telecommunications operator said.

The company's operating results were hit by charges related to last year's failed attempt to merge with Norway's Telenor AS, Telia said.

Revenue, meanwhile, increased 5.2 percent to 52.1 billion kronor, up from 49.6 billion kronor, with international sales expanding to 8 billion kronor, from 6 billion in 1998, to make up more than 15 percent of last year's total revenue.

The Swedish government last month announced that it was speeding up preparatory work to pave the way for an IPO (initial public offering) of Telia shares as early as the second quarter of this year. [See "Swedish Government Gets Serious About Telia IPO," Feb. 17.]Telia executives yesterday said that from now on the company will mainly focus on expanding its domestic broadband services and global Internet Protocol-based networks as well as actively pursue opportunities in Europe's emerging mobile Internet arena.

In related news, Telia yesterday also announced plans to spin off its phone book and corporate directory business unit, as well as divest its cable television business.

Separately, Telia yesterday unveiled an agreement to swap international network capacity with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Communications Group in a deal valued at $440 million.

Under the terms of a 20-year agreement, Telia will provide Williams with capacity on its pan-European fiber network in exchange for capacity on Williams' network in the U.S., Telia said in a statement.

Telia, in Stockholm, can be reached via the Web at http://www.telia.se/.

Williams Communications, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is at http://www.williamscommunications.com/.

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