The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) has approved the sale of Tele2’s operations in the country to TeliaSonera “conditional upon the full implementation of a commitments package” submitted by TeliaSonera following the NCA’s scepticism about the deal in December last year.
The package includes the sale by TeliaSonera of infrastructure and Network Norway’s corporate customer base, distribution network and frequencies to Ice, a new operator in the market.
TeliaSonera said it will also come up with a roaming and service provider agreement with Ice as well as offer MVNO access to Norwegian mobile operators.
The final purchase price has been adjusted from SEK 5.1 billion ($620 million) to SEK 4.5 billion and the transaction is expected to close in the next two weeks.
The deal had initially come about “after a spectrum auction in December 2013 where Tele2 lost most of its spectrum” to Ice, putting Tele2’s Norwegian business in a difficult position, said the NCA, which was concerned that the deal would reduce the number of networks in the country from three to two.
At the beginning of October, Mobile Norway, owned by Tele2, signed an agreement with newcomer Ice in the hope it might allay competition worries.
According to NCA director Gjermund Nese, the authority has “made it clear that a third network operator with a certain customer base is vital to ensure continued competition on price and quality. The commitments offered by TeliaSonera provide a real opportunity for a third mobile network operator to enter the market.”
Tele2 has said that the expected cash proceeds will deliver an attractive return and generate a capital gain of approximately SEK 1.8 billion upon closing.
The merger will see TeliaSonera end up with around 2.7 million subscribers, increasing its market share to around 40 per cent. Market leader Telenor has around 3.2 million mobile subscribers.