TeliaSonera books €46m loss on Nepal Satellite sale

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Sweden-based operator offloads 57% stake due to legal, regulatory uncertainty.

TeliaSonera on Wednesday agreed to sell its 57% stake in Nepal Satellite to Zhodar Investment, citing increased legal and regulatory uncertainty around consolidation in the small, Himalayan nation.

The deal will see the Sweden-based telco book a 400 million kronor (€46 million) loss on its investment in the Nepalese GSM operator.

“The agreement enables TeliaSonera to concentrate on [Nepalese mobile arm] Ncell, which reduces the business risk and complexity of TeliaSonera’s total involvement in Nepal,” said a statement from the company.

TeliaSonera entered Nepal in 2008 when it acquired the company now known as Ncell. It followed that deal up with investments in Nepal Satellite in 2011 and 2012. However, local regulations do not permit operators to merge, and so TeliaSonera has operated Ncell and Nepal Satellite, which offers services under the Hello Nepal brand, separately.

“Over the past year, uncertainty regarding the regulatory and legal environment for consolidation and granting of licenses in Nepal has increased,” said TeliaSonera. “Pursuing an acquisition of Nepal Satellite is therefore not considered possible for regulatory reasons.”