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Scandinavians ring the right bells

There have not yet been any cross-border mergers between the leading European telecoms operators. But some of these troubled companies may have to get together to survive. They could do worse than look to Scandinavia for inspiration.

       

The agreed merger between Finnish telecom company Sonera and Swedish counterpart Telia appears to be a rare success story in the making, set against the woeful backdrop of failed ambitions and investor losses among Europe's other telecom operators. A completed merger between the Scandinavians may set a precedent for other cross-border mergers among European incumbents. While some market participants doubt the benefits of such ventures - and say and that it is more likely that only mobile operations will consolidate - others believe national telcos will be forced to merge in order to survive.

Any deal involving two companies with two separate governments as majority shareholders is bound to be complicated by the machinations of politicians who have their own survival to worry about. The way in which seemingly small details can foil an otherwise straightforward merger is highlighted by the collapse of the deal between Telia and Telenor of Norway.

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