Swedish unions welcome Telia-Sonera merger

On 26 March 2002, the Swedish telecommunications company Telia announced a proposed merger with the Finnish Sonera, with Telia the senior partner in the operation. The proposed merged company would be the largest telecommunications operator in the Nordic countries and Baltic states. Trade union representatives at Telia immediately stated that they were in favour of the merger.

On 26 March 2002, the Swedish government announced that it had decided to support a proposal from the board of the Swedish-based telecommunications company Telia AB for a merger with the Finnish-owned Sonera Oyj. The merger will involve a share exchange, with the current Telia shareholders owning 64% of the new company and current Sonera shareholders 36%. The merged company would be the largest telecommunications operator in the Nordic countries and the Baltic states. Currently, the Swedish state owns 70% of Telia, and the Finnish state 53% of Sonera. The Swedish state would own 45% of the new merged company, and the Finnish state 19%. Telia currently has about 34,000 employees and Sonera 10,000.

'The deal with Sonera is important for Telia and contains possibilities to grow further,' commented two trade union representatives at Telia on the possible merger. Berit Westman, the chair of the local branch of the Swedish Union for Technical and Clerical Employees in Industry (Svenska Industritjänstemannaförbundet, SIF) said that the branch does not consider a merger as a threat to jobs in Telia. Elof Isaksson, the deputy chair of the local branch of the Union for Service and Communication (Facket för Service och Kommunikation, SEKO), said that there was nothing controversial, from a trade union point of view, in the idea of merging Telia with Sonera: 'Ever since the collapsed merger between Telia and Telenor in December 1999 (SE9912115N) the staff at Telia have been discussing what Telia needs to perform in the long run. There is a tough competitive climate nowadays. In order to survive you have to be strong, or else you get swallowed by someone else. The unions are aware of this.'

The trade unions at Telia will shortly start to seek collaboration with the unions at Sonera. They also want work on the merger to start as soon as possible. However, the two companies must first have the planned merger accepted by the European Commission.

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