(Corrects paragraph 8 reference to this year, not last year)
* Company is fourth-biggest operator in Sweden
* Swedish CEO says four major telcos too much for tiny
* Main shareholder Hutchison Whampoa has expanded in Europe
By Olof Swahnberg
STOCKHOLM, Sept 5 Telecoms operator 3
Scandinavia, majority-owned by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa
, will continue to gain market share in Sweden's highly
competitive mobile market, its Swedish CEO told Reuters on
The Swedish mobile market has four major players in a
country of just nine million. Market leader TeliaSonera
has a share of roughly 40 percent, Tele2 30
percent and third-placed Telenor Sweden about 20 percent.
Challenger 3 is No. 4, with a market share of 10.6 percent
at the end of 2012. With its relatively low prices, the operator
has gained about one percentage point market share per year
since starting its Swedish operations in 2003.
The company's Swedish CEO Nicholas Hogberg declined to say
whether it expects to win another full percentage point this
year, but said: "It looks positive this year as well and we will
continue to win market share this year."
Hogberg reckons his firm so far this year has gained market
share both in the consumer market, where it had a share of 12.3
percent, and in the business segment where it had 6.4 percent.
The Swedish telecoms regulator will publish market share
figures for 2013 in spring next year.
Many European telecoms firms are looking to consolidate to
cope with saturated markets, recession-hit consumers, tough
regulation and expensive network upgrades.
Analysts have long expected consolidation in the Swedish
market. When the CEO of 3 Scandinavia - Hogberg's boss - hinted
in a newspaper interview this year that its shareholders might
be interested in buying another player, shares of listed Swedish
telecoms companies rose on hopes that a takeover would reduce
the fierce competition.
"I think, as everyone else does, that four players are a bit
too much in the Swedish market, although all players are
healthy," Hogberg said, adding that any decisions on takeover
activity are up to the shareholders.
3 Scandinavia is 60 percent owned by Hutchison and 40
percent by Investor AB - the listed investment
vehicle of Sweden's Wallenberg family dynasty, which has stakes
in several Swedish bluechip companies.
Hutchison Whampoa owns mobile operators in six European
countries: Ireland, Britain, Austria, Italy, Denmark and Sweden.
In Austria, Hutchison acquired Orange earlier this year, and it
is in the process of acquiring O2 in Ireland from
Hogberg declined to comment on takeover speculation, but
pointed out that Hutchison Whampoa CEO Canning Fok has said that
in Europe he generally prefers to be the buyer rather than the
seller and that his firm seeks growth.
He added that Fok has said that in Europe the company wants
to be among "the consolidators, not the consolidated".
(Editing by Geert De Clercq and Pravin Char)