TeliaSonera hit back at an open letter from financial research firm Muddy Waters, which asserted that information was being withheld from investors which would “significantly impact the company’s shares and credit profile”.
It also pointed the finger at “management (in)actions” related to the issue.
Muddy Waters’ criticism centres on the operator’s actions in Eurasia, a region where it is set to scale-back its presence. It said that while TeliaSonera has “provided some transparency into its misdeeds in Uzbekistan”, it has “not made public that the company’s other Eurasian and Nepal operations suffer from similar problems, and on a massive scale”.
It asserts that the company “could have made corrupt payments throughout its Eurasia and Nepal operations that exceed SEK17 billion ($2.1 billion)”, and is facing up to SEK7.6 billion ($934.4 million) of additional payments to a “problematic partner in Azerbaijan”.
In response, TeliaSonera said that it “does not recognise” the conclusions, noting that it is “as open and transparent as possible with respect to listing requirements and investigations” that are ongoing in Sweden, Netherlands and US.
It also said that it has not received any claims from US authorities, and that it is only when possible claims materialise that it can make provisions in its financial statements; and that its results are in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and audited by Deloitte.
With a long-running backdrop of scandal concerning its activities in its Eurasia region, the company said that its decision to exit the market forms part of “the strategy of creating the new TeliaSonera”.