Telenor Sells Eastern European Division for €2.8 Billion

Norwegian based telecom company Telenor sold its eastern European branch to the Czech based PPF Group for €2.8 billion. The deal is part of Telenor’s efforts to bring its focus to Asia and Scandinavia.

Specifically, Telenor is selling its mobile networks in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia. They are also unloading a small technology company. The sale price will be used to pay shareholders a special dividend of NKr4.40 ($0.57) per share, lower the company’s debt, and perhaps in the future, new acquisitions.

Together the four businesses service 9 million customers and make up about 9 percent of Telenor’s revenue and 8 percent of its profits.

The buyer, PPF Group, is a fund controlled by Petr Kellner, a Czech billionaire. PPF is the owner of O2’s mobile business in Slovakia as well as CETIN, the wholesale infrastructure provider.

The Norwegian government has a 54% stake in Telenor and is currently making changes to the telecom company after a corruption scandal connected to its share in the Russian competitor Veon, previously called VimpelCom.

CEO Sigve Brekke of Telenor said:

“Telenor Group’s strategy is based on growth, efficiency and simplification. With the sale of our [central and eastern Europe] assets, we take an important step in simplifying and focusing Telenor’s portfolio on the regions where we see the strongest potential for value creation.”

European CEOs to Meet English Leaders to Discuss Brexit

Prime Minister, Theresa May, making a speech outside 10 Downing Street following the 2017 general election. Photo courtesy of HM Government.

Executives from leading European companies, including Bank of Ireland, BMW, Bosch and Kingfisher are scheduled to meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May and chancellor Philip Hammond on Thursday. The agenda for the meeting includes planning for the implementation time following the exit of the UK form the European Union due to take place a year from April. They will also discuss May’s vision for the continuing partnership between the EU and the UK.

The companies whose CEOs will be in attendance at the meeting employ over 70,000 people in the UK alone.

Other companies also invited to the meeting include: transportation company Abellio; Maersk, Danish shipping and logistics group; and Wizz Air, the Central and Eastern European airline company.

Despite assurances that the negotiations surrounding Brexit are proceeding well, there is still uncertainty about important areas such as customs arrangements and free trade.

Chinese Solar Company Expanding to Eastern Europe

Chinese JA Solar, one of the largest solar products makers in the world, forged a deal with Manitu Solar, an important PV distributer in Hungary to expand JA’s goods into the Eastern European marketplace.

The terms of the deal stipulate that Manitu will distribute JA Solar’s solar modules.

Manitu Solar, founded in 2010, brings Tier-1 solar products to market. They have years of experience developing ground-mounted and rooftop devices. Manitu has also developed over the years a dense distribution network with more than 300 downstream businesses. Manitu is one of the key solar companies in Eastern Europe; a founding member of MANAP (Hungarian Photovoltaic Industry Association); and a member of Polska PV.

“Manitu Solar works exclusively with global Tier-1 suppliers to provide the highest quality products and service to our customers. JA Solar has been well-recognized for its high conversion efficiency, high output and high reliability solar modules. Its business philosophy is highly compatible with ours. We believe that our cooperation will accelerate the deployment of green energy in Hungary and other Eastern European countries, ” stated Mr. Norbert Nagy, CEO of Manitu Solar.

“JA Solar accounts for approximately 10% of the solar market globally. We have over 20 regional offices and facilities across the globe, providing solar products to more than 100 countries. We look forward to establishing long-term partnership with distributors with similar vision to further promote the development of green energy globally,” said Mr. Cao Bo, vice president of JA Solar.

General Electric Europe Introduces New CEO

570 Lexington Avenue building also known as the General Electric Building, 570 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, New York. Photo courtesy of Leonard J. DeFrancisci.

Peter Stracar will take over the reigns as the CEO for the European division of the industrial mega company General Electric Co.

Stracar will take over for Mark Hutchinson, who stepped down as of January 1st, 2018. The new CEO was the chief executive of GE Central and Eastern Europe beginning in 2013. The change comes on the heels of last year’s decision to revamp its company strategy, including the possibility of breaking up into smaller sub-companies.

Last week GE announced more than $11 billion in charges from its long-term insurance investments and the latest US tax laws.

Outside the US the European market is the company’s largest. GE has over 92,000 workers in over 900 branches throughout Europe. The company generates over $20 billon per year, with close to 30 percent of GE’s global patents filed in the European region.