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STOCKHOLM, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Swedish telecoms operator Telia has appointed Allison Kirkby as new chief exceutive to lead its continuing expansion in television, lifting its share price by 2.5%.
Kirkby joins from Danish telecoms company TDC to fill the vacancy left when Johan Dennelind resigned unexpectedly in August. Shares in the company, in which the Swedish state owns 38%, have lost about 10% of their value since Dennelind took the helm in 2013.
Under Dennelind’s rule, Telia has been withdrawing from central Asia markets to focus on Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia. It is also in the midst of the planned acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting, parent of Sweden’s biggest commercial channel TV4.
“My view on content is that I’m as excited as the team here at Telia for the deal to close, and I very much look forward to seeing the plans and structure that they have going forward,” Kirkby told a news conference on Friday.
Telia said late on Thursday that Kirkby possesses all the required qualities.
“She has a solid industry experience from both telecoms and media, a strong drive to implement change, a visionary approach and a strong focus on growth,” Telia Chairman Marie Ehrling, who herself is due to step down in the coming months, said in a statement.
Kirkby had a successful three-year stint as CEO of Telia rival Tele2 between 2015 and 2018, a period during which Tele2 shares easily outperformed those of Telia.
Danske Bank analyst Fredrik Lithell said Kirkby was a strong leader who knows the methods and tools of Telia’s rival and has the experience from TDC of splitting an operator in two parts - retail and infrastructure.
“It probably helps that she knows how to do that, even if it’s unclear if Telia will go down that road,” he said.
Kirkby, who was chief executive at TDC for only a year, will start her new job during the second quarter of 2020.
Christian Luiga will stay on as acting CEO until Kirby joins and then return to his role as group CFO, the company said.
Telia proposed last week to replace Ehrling with Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, who served as CEO of Tele2 between 1999 and 2008 and is chairman of publishing group Egmont Media.
Reporting by Helena Soderpalm and Johannes Hellstrom Editing by David Goodman