March 5, 2018 / 11:04 AM / 12 days ago

Telia sells Azercell stake in gradual exit from Eurasia

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nordic telecom group Telia on Monday said it had sold its stake in Azerbaijan mobile operator Azercell, which it co-owns with Turkcell, part of a shift to focus on its main markets in Nordic and Baltic countries.

FILE PHOTO: A flag flutters at the Telia telecommunication company headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Telia announced a retreat from central Asia in 2015 after former management became embroiled in a bribery scandal in Uzbekistan. The company turned the page last year with U.S. and European settlements costing $966 million.

Telia has since exited four of seven countries in its so called Eurasian unit: Nepal, Tajikistan, Georgia and now Azerbaijan. It still has operations in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Moldova.

Telia has agreed to sell its 51.3 percent stake in Azerbaijan mobile operator Azercell for 222 million euros ($273.50 million). The price corresponds to an EV/EBITDA multiple of 2.1 based on 2017 numbers, it said in a statement.

Fintur Holdings, in which Telia has a 58.55 percent ownership and Turkcell the remaining shares, sold its stake to Azerbaijan International Telecom LLC, which is owned by the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The transaction is not subject to regulatory or competition approvals and has been completed, Telia said.

Telia hopes to complete an exit from Eurasia this year and is interested in acquisitions in its core markets, board chairwoman Marie Ehrling told Reuters last week.

Reporting by Olof Swahnberg and Helena Soderpalm. Editing by Jane Merriman

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