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Sonera clears the line

Finnish telecom Sonera’s writing off of unpromising 3G licences has delighted its prospective partner, Sweden’s Telia. But the merger deal is not quite sealed and investigations continue.

Kim Ignatius

For a man who could soon be out of a job and whose company has just written off e4.3 billion, Sonera's CFO Kim Ignatius appears surprisingly relaxed.

With 20-20 hindsight Finnish telecom Sonera's investments in 3G mobile services have been described as the biggest mistake in its country's corporate history. Sonera announced at the end of July that it would write down the e4.3 billion it paid for 3G licences in Germany and Italy. That started the ball rolling. Subsequently, Orange has asked to delay its roll-out in Sweden, Vodafone has said it will delay its roll-out in Germany, and KPN has written down e9 billion on its mobile assets.

Back in Finland official inquiries have begun into the involvement of government officials in initial decisions to invest in the 3G licences. Nonetheless, Swedish telecom Telia remains satisfied with its future partner.

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