TeliaSonera Names Emerging-Markets Veteran Dennelind CEO

TeliaSonera AB (TLSN), Sweden’s biggest phone company, named Johan Dennelind chief executive officer, tapping a manager with emerging-markets experience as the carrier targets regions such as Asia to reverse falling sales.

Dennelind, a former Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD) executive, will start in his new role on Sept. 1 though he’ll be available for TeliaSonera from July 1, the Stockholm-based company said yesterday. Per-Arne Blomquist will remain as acting CEO until Sept. 1 and return to his position as chief financial officer.

TeliaSonera will rely on Dennelind’s experience in markets in Asia and Africa as the carrier battles slowing growth at home amid rising competition. While the company made more than 60 percent of its revenue in the Nordic region last year, growth is increasingly coming from the Eurasian unit, with operations in Turkey, Russia and several former Soviet Union countries.

Dennelind has “proven that he can successfully lead organizations in significant change processes within an international environment,” TeliaSonera Chairman Marie Ehrling said in a statement.

TeliaSonera’s shares jumped as much as 1.03 krona, or 2.4 percent, to 44.39 kronor in Stockholm trading, its steepest intraday advance since May 16. It traded 2.3 percent higher at 44.37 kronor as of 10:15 a.m. local time, giving the company a market value of 192.2 billion kronor ($29.8 billion).

TeliaSonera is reducing costs and focusing more on data services and faster-growing economies in a bid to boost profit as revenue declines. Sales from mobile services fell 2.2 percent in Sweden, its largest market, in the first quarter as revenue from Eurasian markets rose 5.4 percent.

Shares of TeliaSonera have lost 1.6 percent this year after falling 5.8 percent in 2012 and 12 percent the year before. They slipped 0.6 percent to 43.36 kronor in Stockholm on June 14.

Graft Investigation

Blomquist was named acting CEO in February following the resignation of Lars Nyberg, who left after a law firm hired to investigate graft accusations said the carrier should have been more careful when it bought an Uzbeki phone license in 2007. Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation last year into whether TeliaSonera knew, or should have known, when it bought a license from Takilant Ltd. that the money went to President Islam Karimov’s family.

At Johannesburg-based Vodacom, the South African carrier controlled by Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), Dennelind was in charge of international operations. He left to join Malaysia’s Maxis Bhd. (MAXIS) in December, only to cancel that move in May to stay closer to his family in Sweden.

At Vodacom, Dennelind was involved in dealing with markets including Congo. Prior to being hired by Vodacom in 2010, Dennelind ran Digi.Com Bhd. (DIGI), the Malaysian mobile-phone company controlled by Norway’s Telenor ASA. (TEL)