(Repeats story without changes)
* Swede Johan Dennelind to become new Telia CEO
* Has strong emerging markets experience
* CEO needs to restore image, bolster growth
By Simon Johnson and Olof Swahnberg
STOCKHOLM, June 16 Nordic telecom operator
TeliaSonera said on Sunday it had picked Johan
Dennelind, the current chief executive of South Africa's Vodacom
International, as its new CEO.
TeliaSonera's confirmation of the appointment came hours
after Reuters reported Dennelind, who was not among those most
widely tipped as new CEO, had got the job, citing a source with
knowledge of the recruitment process.
With the selection of Dennelind the group is going for a boss
with solid experience in emerging markets, regions that have
been the main source of growth for Telia in recent years but
where its business practices have also come under fire.
Telia, 37 percent owned by the Swedish government and
Europe's sixth-biggest operator by market value, has been headed
by its CFO since former CEO Lars Nyberg resigned in February.
His move followed an internal probe criticising the company
for failing in due diligence when it bought a 3G license in
Uzbekistan in 2007.
Swedish prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation
into allegations of corruption associated with the deal and have
served two Telia executives with notice they are suspects. Telia
has denied any wrongdoing.
Dennelind is relatively unknown in Sweden and was not among
the names widely tipped as in line for the top job at Telia, but
he does offer extensive international telecoms experience as
well as a strong Nordic background.
He is currently chief executive of Vodacom's international
business and prior to that was CEO of Malaysia's No. 3 mobile
operator, Digi Telecommunications, 49 percent owned by Norway's
A Swede, Dennelind was CFO and deputy CEO at Telenor Sweden
but started his management career in the early 1990s with Telia.
At the end of last year, he was appointed CEO of Malaysia's
top mobile company, Maxis and was due to start the job
in July, but the company said only weeks ago he would not be
taking up that position.
TeliaSonera Chairman Marie Ehrling said in a statement
Dennelind, who starts his new job in September, represented a
"fresh start" for the group and pointed to his ability to lead
organisations through "significant change processes."
Known as an innovator and a consensus builder, he will need
to restore TeliaSonera's image after its dealings in Uzbekistan
as well as facing a long list if other challenges.
Bengt Nordstrom, head of telecom consultancy Northstream,
noted it was the first time since Telia's merger with Finland's
Sonera in 2002 that the group had picked as CEO someone with
past experience from operators, adding Dennelind brought along
"a good reputation".
Relations between unions and top management broke down under
Nyberg and the company has seen revenue stagnate since 2008. It
is currently in the middle of a 2 billion Swedish crown ($300
million) cost cutting program.
"I am very proud to have been given this vote of confidence
from the Board of Directors and I am excited about and humble
towards this new challenge," Dennelind said.
Dennelind will need to find ways to restore growth amid a
decline in traditional voice-based telephony and surging
Internet-based data services for smartphones and tablets,
something it and rivals in Europe have struggled with.
One option is to renew an acquisition program that has taken
Telia to countries such as Azerbaijan and Nepal in recent years.
With 26 billion crowns in cash it has the muscle, but the
question is if the trouble in Uzbekistan has given it cold feet.
(Editing by Niklas Pollard, Jason Neely and Vicki Allen)