TeliaSonera Earnings Beat Estimates as Swedish Sales Improve

  • The carrier is embroiled in legal probes over Uzbek licenses
  • Net income includes writedown of $622 million for Uzbekistan

TeliaSonera AB, the Swedish phone carrier that’s exiting former Soviet countries and Asia amid bribery accusations, posted forth-quarter earnings that beat estimates and said consumer demand for high speed Internet access remained strong in its home market.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, excluding one-time items, rose 11 percent to 6.56 billion kronor ($771 million), compared with the average analyst estimate of 6.31 billion kronor, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The stock rose as much as 3.6 percent, and was up 1.8 percent to 39.29 kronor at 9:20 a.m. in Stockholm, giving the phone company a market value of 170 billion kronor.

The former Swedish phone monopoly this month wrote down the value of its Uzbek operations by 5.3 billion kronor as it prepares to pull out of the country. The carrier also took a 2.1 billion-kronor charge, mainly to write down the value of operations in Denmark, after scrapping a plan to merge its business in the country with that of Norwegian rival Telenor ASA in the face of European Union opposition.

TeliaSonera is seeking to focus on Europe and its home Nordic region to capitalize on higher demand for wireless Web-browsing and video services. The carrier is embroiled in legal probes in Sweden, the Netherlands and with the U.S. Department of Justice over how it bought phone licenses in Uzbekistan in 2007. The process to leave Eurasian markets continues, Chief Executive Officer Johan Dennelind said in a statement Friday.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 5.9 percent to 22.7 billion kronor, compared with the average analyst estimate of 22.2 billion kronor. The board proposed a dividend 3 kronor a share. The carrier forecast full-year earnings “at the same level” as in 2015, on a comparable basis.

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