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Nordic telecom operator Telia enters TV business

Last Updated Jul 20, 2018 at 11:20 am EDT

HELSINKI – The Nordic region’s largest telecoms operator, Telia AB, said Friday it has agreed to buy the broadcasting and streaming operations of Swedish publishing company Bonnier AB to gain a foothold in the television and entertainment business.

The 9.2 billion kronor ($1 billion) deal to buy Bonnier Broadcasting includes Swedish TV4 channel, streaming service C More and Finnish MTV channel.

CEO Johan Dennelind said the deal would help Telia access a wide range of media content and described the acquisition as “a natural next step” to complement Telia’s core business in Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

“We have great respect for our new role as a media owner and have a clear view of how we’ll maintain editorial integrity of the business going forward,” Dennelind said, adding that “some of the most talented TV-content producers in the Nordics” would now work for the Stockholm-based group.

Telia and its Nordic peers are under pressure to add content to their established telecom services to take on powerful digital rivals like Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Fox Entertainment Group and Discovery Communications Inc.

“The big international players are already here (in the Nordics),” said Jarkko Nordlund, the CEO of MTV, Finland’s largest commercial channel. “Finland is currently the most competitive television market in the world.”

Telia’s strategy in the Nordic region is to offer clients combined subscriptions of mobile, broadband, TV and other telecoms services. It is its second major purchase this week after it announced Tuesday a $2.6 billion deal to buy the mobile operations of Denmark’s TDC A/S in Norway.

The Swedish government owns a 37 per cent stake in Telia, a fact that may make the deal politically sensitive as it also controls the Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

The deal is set to be closed by the second half of 2019.