Telia Company’s bid to combine Latvian mobile provider LMT with fixed unit Lattelecom were turned down by the government – a decision the operator group slammed as detrimental to the country.
In a scathing response, Telia said it had spent ten years trying to negotiate with authorities and would now assess its options in the country.
“Over the past decade, Telia Company has put forward every single option to the government – to buy, to sell, to merge and different ownership structures, which have now all been rejected,” it said.
Telia owns 60 per cent of LMT and 49 per cent of Lattelecom and has gone on record several times to describe the combination of the two as the “only solution to ensure their sustainable future”.
Remaining shares in the fixed provider are owned by the Latvian state, alongside a small stake in LMT. Lattelecom also holds a 23 per cent investment in LMT.
On the final decision, Telia added: “It is disappointing that the government has not only rejected the solutions recommended by the independent consultants and its own inter-ministerial working group, but has also failed to provide an alternative strategy regarding the development of the two companies and the country’s digital sector.”
“The negative decision is detrimental for both LMT and Lattelecom and ultimately to Latvian society and the wider economy.”
According to GSMA Intelligence LMT is the largest of Latvia’s four mobile operators, with 1.24 million connections.
Its failed attempt to consolidate operations in Latvia come amid Telia’s measures to reduce its exposure in non-key markets.
The company has already sold many of its interests in Eurasia but previously described the Baltics and Nordics as the regions it was looking to now focus its efforts on.
However, Telia had pinned its hopes for Latvia on running a converged operator. With this out of the question, the company is now reassessing its position.