Telia Company’s Annual General Meeting 2017 summarized
Last year’s main events where highlighted and discussed by Chairman of the Board Marie Ehrling and President and CEO Johan Dennelind at the Annual General Meeting on 5 April.
“We are all on the same digitalization journey.” With those words by Marie Ehrling, Chairman of Telia Company’s Board, the AGM 2017 kicked off. The meeting, held on April 5 at the venue Cirkus in Stockholm, drew shareholders, media and others interested in hearing about what the company has been up to over the last twelve months.
Once formalities were out of the way, a conversation between Johan Dennelind and Marie Ehrling, moderated by journalist Mia Odabas, helped highlight some of the main events – achievements and challenges – over the last year.
“It has been a very intense year,” commented Marie Ehrling. We have sold our Nepalese and Spanish operations, renamed our operations in Finland and Lithuania to Telia, made progress in reaching an agreement with the US and Dutch authorities, and, as announced just this week, got the green light for our acquisition of Phonero in Norway. Internally we are going through an incredible change journey where we are adjusting to new ways of working and being. She added that the company has invested 15 billion SEK in the future of the company.
While not being able to comment on the share price, Marie Ehrling stressed that it is important for the Board and Management to get the message across to shareholders that Telia Company is on the right track. Johan Dennelind agreed, adding: “It is important to look at the bigger picture and to keep in mind where we have been and where we are going. While we see some problems in certain markets, we are doing incredibly well in our core markets”.
Eurasia and the investigations by the US and Dutch authorities
When pressed on the topic of Eurasia and why the divestment process is taking longer than anticipated, Johan Dennelind noted that while the company is making good progress, the process must not be stressed and that making a responsible exit requires consideration of many different components. “You need to do the right thing from the start and this was not the case when Telia entered the Eurasian markets – therefore the only right thing for us to do is to leave”, said Marie Ehrling. The investigation by the US and Dutch authorities is still ongoing and details could therefore not be discussed. “As soon as we’ve reached a settlement and this is behind us we’ll be able to talk in more detail about the investigations,” said Johan Dennelind.
Growth in core and close-to-core markets
When discussing growth opportunities in Telia Company’s core markets, Johan Dennelind noted that the company will continue looking for successful acquisition opportunities, such as the two in Norway – Tele2 and Phonero. Acquisitions that create value and deals close to the core will be prioritized, such as in the IoT space.
“We don’t want to be something else; we want to be something more. We have to be courageous and look to the future in addition to focusing on our core operations. We can’t just stand still and look on, we must take risks, invest and cerate partnership,” Johan Dennelind said, highlighting the launch of Telia Zone, Telia Sense, and the acquisition of Fältcom.
Sustainability was also brought up and the CEO and Chairwoman were asked about how Telia Company contributes to the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Johan Dennelind mentioned the All-In strategy and how the SDGs are central to everything the company does. The recently launched YOUNITE initiative was highlighted as yet another way of integrating the SDGs in the everyday lives of Telia Company’s employees.
“So what should we expect to talk about when we meet again next year”, asked Mia Odabas when she concluded the conversation. “We won’t be talking Eurasia because the region will have been divested, we will talk in more detail about the US and Dutch investigations because they will have concluded – but what else?”
“Next time we meet we want to show a clear increase in value, that’s our most important goal. That all our efforts in all areas have paid off”, said Marie Ehrling.
Johan agreed with Marie, adding that he hopes he will be able to report that all Telia Company employees are engaged in the YOUNITE initiative.