Telenor seeks triple listing in Oslo, London, New York

Telenor seeks to sell shares for the first time in Oslo, London and New York.




Telenor A/S, Norway's biggest telecommunications company, plans simultaneous first time listings of its shares on three markets: Oslo, London and Nasdaq at the beginning of December, the company said.

The company declined to reveal how much it plans to raise, but it could eventually be as much as 25%. Analysts estimate that Telenor could be worth between NKr60 billion ($6.4 billion) and NKr100 million ($10.7 billion). Goldman Sachs will be underwriting the deal. One banker said BNP Paribas would be advising the Koos Group. BNP declined to comment.

State-owned Telenor has 11.1 million mobile phone customers in Europe and Asia, including those of companies it has stakes in. That's up from 4.3 million at the beginning of the year. In Norway, Telenor already has two-thirds of a market where one in every five people already owns a mobile phone.

Big spender

Telenor has been spending heavily – its debt rose to NKr51.7 billion at the end of September from about NKr20 billion three months earlier. Its net income simultaneously dropped 50% to NKr596 million as affiliated companies lost money.

Still, the company is determined to continue its acquisition strategy. It just doesn't want to take on any more debt in case its credit ratings get hurt. Neither does the company want to take small stakes in myriad companies where it can have no influence.

"When you're a long way from home you need to have a strategic management influence," says Sigve Brekke, managing director of Telenor Asia. "We don't want to just be a financial investor. For a global player like Vodafone it might make sense but not for a player like us."

Eye on Asia

Asia is clearly an important market for Telenor. In May, the company together with tycoon Vincent Tan, bought 29 million shares from smaller holders at M$7.60 ($2.00) each, bringing Tan's stake to $32.93% and Telenor's stake to 32.98%.

Earlier in the month, Telenor agreed to buy 24.9% of United Communications Industries of Thailand, one of the Kingdom's biggest phone companies. It also agreed to buy 30% of its Total Access Communications subsidiary for $720 million.

Meanwhile Telenor has its sights set on KG Telecom of Taiwan, which is aiming to be the island's biggest third-generation (3G) network. KG Telecom and handset maker Nokia are building out the first stage of a $520 million GPRS network (a halfway house between 2G and 3G) and hope to have it operational by April.

It will likely facing bidding opposition from Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo and Telstra of Australia. Under Taiwanese law, foreign companies can hold 40% of a domestic company. In August the Koos Group bought back a 20% stake held by Bell Canada for $485 million and is now seeking to sell the entire stake to the highest bidder.

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