October 20, 2019 / 3:51 PM / 24 days ago

Telia proposes new chairman as pursues TV expansion

STOCKHOLM, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Telia Group has proposed replacing its chairwoman Marie Ehrling with a senior media and telecoms executive as it looks to expand in television with a $1 billion bid for Bonnier Broadcasting.

The Nordic telecoms group on Sunday named Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, chairman of publishing group Egmont Media and a former member of the boards of mobile operator Millicom and former television broadcasting group MTG , as chairman designate.

He would replace Ehrling who has held the post since 2013.

“I had envisaged staying on until April and now that is not happening, and that is something I have to accept,” Swedish news agency TT quoted Ehrling as saying.

Telia, also in the process of replacing its chief executive after Johan Dennelind resigned in August, has been withdrawing from central Asia to focus on the Nordics and Baltics.

It wants to branch out into television and has made an offer for Bonnier Broadcasting, parent of Sweden’s biggest commercial channel TV4.

The deal, announced in 2018 and under scrutiny by EU regulators, is politically sensitive because the government - owner of 38.35% of Telia’s shares - already controls Sweden’s public service television network SVT.

Telia said it had received a request from the state to call a general shareholders’ meeting regarding the election of a new chair, and that the nomination committee had agreed to nominate Jarnheimer to the position. It did not say when the meeting would be held. Its regular AGM is set for April 2 next year.

“Lars-Johan is strongly business minded,” nomination committee chair Daniel Kristiansson said in a statement, noting he had extensive experience in both telecoms and media.

Jarnheimer was between 1999 and 2008 CEO of Telia’s Swedish rival Tele2 and is also chairman of IKEA’s main retail vehicle Ingka.

Telia said last week it was winding up a share buyback plan early amid a need to preserve cash, sending its shares down. (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom Editing by David Holmes)

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