Telia CEO Johan Dennelind (pictured) warned that challenges in Sweden will continue, as strong Q4 2018 performances in Norway and Finland were offset by weaknesses in its home market.

In a statement, Dennelind said the operator enjoyed solid support from “all parts of our operations, with Sweden as the exception”, as it reported a revenue rise of 4.9 per cent year-on-year to SEK22.2 billion ($2.4 billion), partly driven by its acquisitions of Get and TDC in Norway.

The operator did, however, fall to a loss of SEK1.6 billion from a profit of SEK805 million in Q4 2017, impacted by the divestments of UCell and KCell as part of an exit from the Eurasia market.

Domestic struggle
In Sweden, its biggest market, Telia suffered a 3.3 per cent decline in revenue to SEK9.7 billion, while service revenue fell 2.2 per cent due to declines in its fixed operations. Weakness in Sweden meant sales in local currencies, excluding acquisitions and disposals, declined 2.9 per cent at group level.

Dennelind said the company was experiencing delays in the impact of its transformation project and “with a fourth quarter that included some softer parameters than we expected, the end of 2018 was challenging for Sweden”.

“The challenging environment will continue, but this has not changed my view on 2019 and 2020 for improving trends in Sweden,” he added.

To turnaround its fortunes in the country, the company said it will target reducing Swedish operating expenses by 3 per cent in 2019. It also plans to accelerate core service revenue and focus on increasing average price per user.

Dennelind noted that since pursuing a strategy to focus on its Nordic and Baltic operations by divesting its Eurasia operations, it had strengthened its converged proposition in the consumer and enterprise markets in Norway and Finland.

Revenue in Norway rose 38 per cent to SEK3.7 billion in the quarter, and 8.4 per cent to SEK4 billion in Finland.