Global financial markets unrest
Changes in the global financial markets are difficult to predict. TeliaSonera strives to have a strong balance sheet and operates in a relatively non-cyclical or late-cyclical industry. However, a severe or long-term financial crisis by itself or by triggering a downturn in the economy of one or more countries in which TeliaSonera operates would have an impact on the customers and may have a negative impact on growth and results of operations through reduced telecom spending.
The maturity schedule of TeliaSonera’s loan portfolio is aimed to be evenly distributed over several years, and refinancing is expected to be made by using uncommitted open-market debt financing programs and bank loans, alongside the company’s free cash flow. In addition, TeliaSonera has committed bank credit lines that are deemed to be sufficient and may be utilized if the open-market refinancing conditions are poor. However, TeliaSonera’s cost of funding might be higher should there be unfavorable changes in the global financial markets.
International political and macroeconomic developments
TeliaSonera has material investments in the Russian Federation related to its associated company PAO MegaFon and the international carrier operations. Following the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the European Union and the United States have implemented sanctions directed towards individuals and corporates. The Russian Federation has as a consequence decided on certain counter actions. The sanctions and counter actions may negatively affect the Russian ruble and the Russian economy, which in turn may impact countries whose economies are closely linked to the Russian economy, such as a number of TeliaSonera’s Eurasian operations. These developments, as well as other international political conflicts or developments affecting countries in which TeliaSonera is operating, may adversely impact TeliaSonera’s cash flows, financial position and results of operations.
Competition and price pressure
TeliaSonera is subject to substantial and historically increasing competition and price pressure. Competition from a variety of sources, including current market participants, new entrants and new products and services, may adversely affect TeliaSonera’s results of operations. Competition has from time to time led to increasing customer churn, decreasing customer bases and to declines in the prices TeliaSonera charges for its products and services and may have similar effects in the future.
Transition to new business models in the telecom industry may lead to structural changes and different competitive dynamics. Failure to anticipate and respond to industry dynamics, and to drive a change agenda to meet mature and developing demands in the marketplace, may affect TeliaSonera’s customer relationships, service offerings and position in the value chain, and adversely impact its results of operations.
TeliaSonera operates in a highly regulated industry. The regulations to which TeliaSonera is subject impose significant limits on its flexibility to manage its business. In a number of countries, TeliaSonera entities have been designated as a party with significant market power in one or several telecom submarkets. As a result, TeliaSonera is required to provide certain services on regulated terms and prices, which may differ from the terms on which it would otherwise have provided those services. Effects from regulatory intervention may be both retroactive and prospective.
Changes in regulation or government policy affecting TeliaSonera’s business activities, as well as decisions by regulatory authorities or courts, including granting, amending or revoking of telecom licenses and frequency permits for TeliaSonera or other parties, could adversely affect TeliaSonera’s business and results of operations.
TeliaSonera has made significant investments in telecom operators in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova, Nepal, Russia, Turkey and Afghanistan. Historically, the political, economic, legal and regulatory systems in these countries have been less predictable than in countries with more mature institutional structures. The political situation in each of the emerging market countries may remain or become increasingly unpredictable, and markets in which TeliaSonera operates may become unstable, even to the extent that TeliaSonera decides or will be forced to exit a country or a specific operation within a country. Another implication may be unexpected or unpredictable litigation cases under civil or tax legislation.
Other risks associated with operating in emerging market countries include foreign exchange restrictions or administrative issues, which could effectively prevent TeliaSonera from repatriating cash, e.g. by receiving dividends and repayment of loans, or from selling its investments. Still another risk is the potential establishment of foreign ownership restrictions or other possible actions against entities with foreign ownership, formally or informally.
Such negative political or legal developments or weakening of the economies or currencies in these markets might have a significantly negative effect on TeliaSonera’s results of operations and financial position.
In September 2015, TeliaSonera announced its decision to reduce the presence in region Eurasia (Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova and Nepal) and over time fully leave. Sales processes have been initiated. The nature of these markets, including potential government intervention and other factors mentioned above, combined with the fact that the assets are not fully-owned and there are undertakings and obligations in various shareholder agreements, reputational issues regarding the assets and fewer potential buyers than in more mature markets, makes the complexity of these sales processes high with significant uncertainties regarding both expected outcome and timing.