November 29, 2013 / 8:50 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 2-TeliaSonera fires CFO and three others after Eurasia review

* Review critical of how some deals handled

* Former Eurasia chief also to leave company - source

* Former CEO and most of board stepped down earier in year (Recasts with CFO, adds detail, source, shareholder comment)

By Sven Nordenstam and Olof Swahnberg

STOCKHOLM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Sweden’s TeliaSonera has fired its chief financial officer and three other senior employees after investigators it hired criticised the way it had conducted business in the Eurasia region, the telecoms company said on Friday.

Swedish prosecutors last year started a preliminary investigation into Telia’s purchase of a 3G telecoms licence in Uzbekistan after bribery allegations that resulted in the exit of the company’s former chief executive and most of the board.

Telia said the four people were dismissed after a law firm it appointed to investigate deals in Eurasia found that “the processes for conducting some transactions have not been in line with sound business practices”. It gave no further details of the law firm’s findings.

Telia Chairwoman Marie Ehrling said in a statement that the four individuals had lost the board’s trust and were notified that their employment was being terminated. The employees will leave immediately, she said.

The company said CFO Per-Arne Blomquist was one of the four, while a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Tero Kivisaari, the former head of Telia’s Eurasia region - covering markets such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Tajikistan - would also leave the company.

Neither Blomquist nor Kivisaari could immediately be reached for comment.

Shares in the telecoms operator were down 2 percent at 1032 GMT, heading for their worst day in more than five months and by far the weakest share in the STOXX Europe telecoms index

“We see it as a positive step, but we hope that it is not just people they are replacing, but also the way they operate,” said Sasja Beslik, head of responsible investment and governance at Nordea Investment Funds, which holds about 1.4 percent of TeliaSonera’s shares.

Telia said it would hand over the Eurasia review, conducted by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, to the prosecutors investigating Telia’s actions in Uzbekistan.

An earlier report by a law firm it hired to investigate the Uzbek 3G deal did not uncover any evidence of bribery or money laundering, though it was highly critical of the company. Telia’s chief executive resigned after the investigation and most of the board stepped down.

The prosecutors are looking into allegations that Telia paid 2.3 billion Swedish crowns ($350.9 million) for its 3G licence to a company it knew was a front for Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov.

A Swedish court has agreed to freeze assets belonging to Takilant Ltd, the Gibraltar-listed company from which Telia bought its Uzbek licence.

Karimova has denied the allegations. (Additional reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by David Goodman)

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