* Decision comes after losing Norway spectrum auction
* Says options include sale of unit
(Adds detail, background)
STOCKHOLM, March 5 Sweden's Tele2 has
hired investment bank ABG Sundal Collier to review its options
in Norway, including selling its operations there, after it lost
a December auction for a mobile spectrum key for the development
of its Norwegian network.
Tele2, which is Norway's third-largest mobile operator
behind Telenor and Teliasonera, has spent
almost 400 million euros ($549.70 million) since 2011 to build a
business that now has 1.2 million customers and some 1,700
But it was dealt a blow after Access Industries, a holding
company owned by Ukrainian-American billionaire Len Blavatnik
who also owns Warner Music Group, won an auction with a $115
million bid for airwaves in the 800, 900 and 1800 megahertz
"As previously communicated we are evaluating our different
opportunities for our Norwegian businesses. Exploring various
strategic options is an on-going part of our responsibility
towards our shareholders," Mats Granryd, CEO and president of
Tele2, said in a statement, declining to comment on specific
Sources told Reuters in February that Tele2 and Access
Industries were in talks, with options including Access selling
its spectrum to Tele2, Access buying Tele2's Norway operation,
or a licensing of the spectrum to Tele2.
Access would only sell its spectrum to Tele2 on condition
that it also buys ice.net, a small Norwegian mobile broadband
company owned by Access. Nor is Access willing to pay a high
price for Tele2's Norway unit, sources said then.
Tele2's Norway business is worth less than it would be if it
had a robust spectrum portfolio because it means renting
capacity on rival networks, dampening profit margins.
Tele2 is also looking at other options, such as buying
spectrum in the next auction, but it is not certain that the
government will sell any this year or next.
Tele2 could also seek an agreement to put its mobile traffic
on Telenor or Teliasonera's networks, analysts have said,
although this would result in a less profitable business. It was
unclear if such talks were underway.
($1 = 0.7277 euros)
(Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Louise Heavens)