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TeliaSonera Rises After Naming Dennelind Chief Executive

TeliaSonera's Incoming CEO Johan Dennelind
TeliaSonera will rely on incoming CEO Johan Dennelind’s experience in markets in Asia and Africa as the carrier battles slowing growth at home amid rising competition. Photographer: Casper Hedberg/Bloomberg

TeliaSonera AB rose the most in a month after it named Johan Dennelind chief, tapping a manager with emerging-markets experience as the biggest Swedish phone company targets regions such as Asia to reverse falling sales.

Dennelind, a former Vodacom Group Ltd. executive, will start as chief executive officer on Sept. 1 though he’ll be available for TeliaSonera from July 1, the company said yesterday. Per-Arne Blomquist will remain as acting CEO until Sept. 1 and return to his position as chief financial officer.

TeliaSonera will rely on Dennelind’s experience in markets in Asia and Africa as the carrier battles slowing growth at home amid rising competition. While the company made more than 60 percent of its revenue in the Nordic region last year, growth is increasingly coming from the Eurasian unit, with operations in Turkey, Russia and several former Soviet Union countries.

“Dennelind has a good track record in both mature and emerging markets so he’s a very good candidate for TeliaSonera,” said Stefan Gauffin, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Stockholm. “It’s going to take some time to turn around the company’s operations given the weak market environment, so this recruitment was key for TeliaSonera.”

The stock rose as much as 3.1 percent, its biggest intraday jump since May 16, and added 3 percent to 44.68 kronor at 12:12 p.m. in Stockholm, valuing the company at 193 billion kronor ($30 billion). The stock is little changed this year after falling 5.8 percent in 2012 and 12 percent the year before.

Graft Investigation

TeliaSonera, based in Stockholm, is reducing costs and focusing more on data services and faster-growing economies in a bid to boost profit as revenue declines. Sales from mobile services fell 2.2 percent in Sweden, its largest market, in the first quarter as revenue from Eurasian markets rose 5.4 percent.

Dennelind has “proven that he can successfully lead organizations in significant change processes within an international environment,” TeliaSonera Chairman Marie Ehrling said in a statement.

Blomquist was named acting CEO in February following the resignation of Lars Nyberg, who left after a law firm hired to investigate graft accusations said the carrier should have been more careful when it bought an Uzbeki phone license in 2007. Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation last year into whether TeliaSonera knew, or should have known, when it bought a license from Takilant Ltd. that the money went to President Islam Karimov’s family.

At Johannesburg-based Vodacom, the South African carrier controlled by Vodafone Group Plc, Dennelind was in charge of international operations. He left to join Malaysia’s Maxis Bhd. in December, only to cancel that move in May to stay closer to his family in Sweden.

At Vodacom, Dennelind was involved in dealing with markets including Congo. Prior to being hired by Vodacom in 2010, Dennelind ran Digi.Com Bhd., the Malaysian mobile-phone company controlled by Norway’s Telenor ASA.

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