TeliaSonera’s Q4 2014 sales grew by a slender 0.2 per cent year-on-year, to SEK26.6 billion ($2.74 billion), as growth flat-lined across its key Nordic markets and problems grew further afield.
Johan Dennelind, the company’s CEO, drew attention to a “more challenging macro-economic environment in Eurasia”, which includes TeliaSonera’s operations in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
Indeed, measured by local currencies, group revenue declined by 2.2 per cent between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014.
Aside from the economic challenges in Eurasia, TeliaSonera is wrestling with stiffer competition in the Nordic and Baltic markets, which is squeezing margins.
In reported currency, adjusted EBITDA for Q4 fell 1.4 per cent to SEK8.6 billion. The EBITDA margin – again, excluding non-recurring items – dropped from 32.9 per cent (Q4 2013) to 32.3 percent (Q4 2014).
In Sweden, TeliaSonera’s home market, mobile service revenue grew by a modest 1.5 per cent, to SEK3.5 billion. And increased competition – both in the fixed and mobile segments – is putting a strain on EBITDA margin. For all its operations in Sweden during Q4 2014, it was 34 per cent, down from 36.2 per cent in Q4 2013.
To try and alleviate financial pressure at a group level, TeliaSonera recently agreed a deal with Telenor to merge their Danish businesses, with the intention of achieving annual savings of at least DKK800 million ($121 million) over the next three years. The long-mooted sale of Yoigo, TelieSonera’s mobile unit in Spain, is another way the Stockholm-based operator might bolster its finances.
“We continue to seek structural opportunities within our footprint with the aim to strengthen our core operations,” said Dennelind in his statement accompanying Q4 2014 results.
Net income for the group, during Q4 2014, was SEK2.87 billion, up from SEK2.69 billion drummed up in the same quarter the previous year. The reason for the uptick was reduced finance costs – SEK498 million in Q4 2014 as opposed to SEK740 million during Q4 2013 – rather than any significant progress at an operational level.
TeliaSonera said it expected EBITDA for 2015 to be around the same level as in 2014 (SEK33.7 billion). Unlike previous years, however, the operator did not give any revenue guidance.