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Telenor Group Case Study

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Published: Wed, 07 Feb 2018

CASE STUDY
TELENOR

1. General information about the Telenor Group

The Telenor Group is the leading telecommunications company in Norway and one of the leading mobile operators in the world in terms of subscription. The company is also the biggest provider of television services in the Nordic region, while at the same time being present as the mobile operator in some of the fastest growing markets. Headquarters of the Telenor Group are located in Oslo, Norway. The company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. With the end of the third quarter of 2009, the Telenor Group has achieved 172 million of mobile subscriptions worldwide and it currently employs approximately 40.000 people in thirty countries.

As it is widely familiar, Norway, as well as other Scandinavian countries, is known as extremely developed technology market in the beginning of the 21st century, achieving some of the highest penetration rates for new technologies, such as mobile phones and high – speed internet. This actually represents a kind of tradition of the country, having in mind the fact that in 1855 the first telegraph line has been built, followed by the first telephone network connecting the cities of Arendal and Tvederstrand in 1878. Furthermore, Norway was one of the first world countries to introduce mobile telephone system in 1967, which was analogue – based and manually operated.

In order to understand business operations of Telenor, it seems necessary to make a short historical overview of the company’s origins. Beginnings of the Telenor Group date back in 1855 when it was established as a state – operated monopoly, bearing the name Norwegian Telegraph Administration – NTA (also known as Telegrafverket) and offering the provision of telegraph services. In the last decade of the 19th century, development of the Norway’s early telephone network was handled by private companies. Norwegian Telegraph Administration, which was in the ownership of the state, gradually took over the privately owned companies in the market and gained control over the sector. Since then, Telenor gained more than 150 years of telecom experience. In 1969, the NTA changed its name to Televerket, also known as Norwegian Telecommunications. With the purchase of Andebu, the last privately owned company in the sector of telecommunications in 1974, Televerket obtained control of the monopoly of the services of telephone and telecommunications and retained that position till the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 1990s, the company pioneered a new generation of mobile telephone services based on the GSM protocol, which was later accepted and implemented thought Europe. GSM service was launched in 1993 and was followed by the expansion of the company in the field of television broadcasting. This strategic decision provided the company with the opportunity to position itself as the dominant provider of satellite – based broadcasting in the Scandinavian region.

Since the Norwegian authorities had a tendency to deregulate the telecom sector in the country, the process of deregulation commenced in 1994 and lasted till 1998, with a partial deregulation – sector by sector. Even before the government deregulation began, Televerket started with the company restructuring which lasted for four years and included the transformation of the company from a state – owned to a public company, as well as the change of the company name to Telenor in 1995. Additionally, the company was a subject of partial privatization in 2000, which gave it a substantial boost of 15.6 billion NOK[1] of new capital and listed it on the Oslo Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. At the beginning of the privatization process, the Government remained the owner of 77.7% of the company, while this percentage was reduced to 53% by 2006. The company was rankedtop performer bythe Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes in 2007 and 2008.

The main services which Telenor provides to its consumers and companies worldwide include the following segments: voice, data, content and other services.

* In the segment of Voice, Telenor provides people to talk to each other by using fast and reliable networks. This segment focuses on the conversation on the phone, including fixed – line, mobile or IP telephony. Fixed voice communication services are provided for users in three countries of the Nordic region and mobile voice in twelve different countries in Europe and Asia.

* The segment of Data encompasses of the Internet and broadband services. The company offers fixed – line data services like ADSL and fiber-optic communications in the countries of the Nordic region, and mobile data services such as mobile broadband, GPRS, UMTS in 12 countries. From the beginning of 2008, the company has started 3G – based mobile broadband services inseven of its markets.

* In the field of Content, TV services and mobile content, Telenor offers TV services via cable, digital terrestrial and satellite networks in four Nordic markets. Furthermore, the company also provides mobile content services in several markets, such as mobile TV, sports, ring tones, music and movies.

* As far as otherservices are concerned, Telenor has a diversified offer that consists of services, which are telecom – related, and the service portfolio is different from one country to another. Depending on the market, the company provides services in the filed of maritime communications, IT consulting, and aircraft communications services. In several markets the company provides Net-centric services, which refer to the IT security for individual consumers and enterprises and machine – to – machine (M2M) services for enterprises.

The major part of the Telenor`s activities is organized in three regions and includes thirteen countries:

– Asia: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and India.

– Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

– Centraland Eastern Europe: Hungary, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

From the beginning of the 1990s, Telenor begun with its international expansion in the field of mobile communications, penetrating the markets of the following countries: Russia in 1994, Bangladesh, Greece, Ireland, Germany and Austria in 1997, Ukraine in 1998, Malaysia in 1999, Denmark and Thailand in 2000, Hungary in 2002, Montenegro and Pakistan in 2004, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Serbia in 2006. Operations in Greece, Ireland and Germany were sold and the money obtained from this sale has been re – invested in the emerging markets. Additionally, in 2005 Vodafone[2] in Sweden was acquired by Telenor.

1.1. Mission and Strategy

Telenor’s primary objective is to create greater value for its shareholders, customers, employees and partners, and for the society in general. The company is dedicated to being at the forefront in creating, simplifying and introducing communication and content solutions to the marketplace. In order to comply with the given goal, Telenor bases its strategy on its customer oriented vision, Here to Help, as well as its core values, Make it easy, Keep promises, Be inspiring and Be respectful. Telenor’s main strategy is to upgrade the performance of the local mobile operations by combining Groups industrialization with local drive and responsiveness, in the regions where it conducts its business operations: Nordic region, Eastern and Central Europe and Asia. Furthermore, the company plans to maintain its leading position in the Nordic region with a diversified portfolio of communication services. This strategy could be defragmented to the following focus areas:

  1. Strengthening of the position of the company as an international mobile operator. Telenor plans to continue the process of strengthening its industrialization of the mobile operations by gaining control over chosen mobile companies. Control is crucial in order to benefit from synergies obtained by cross – border activities, such as scale in procurement, development of new services and implementation of best practices, improvement of operational efficiency and the increase of the overall profitability. Telenor plans to manage the non-strategic investments as financial investments and to exit from international mobile operations where the company cannot obtain control over time.
  2. Strengthening of the company’s position in the Nordic region.
    Telenor will continue to upgrade its services in the field of mobile and fixed telephony in the Nordic region by using the benefits obtained from economies of scale and cross-border synergies. The company strongly feels that its Nordic presence will improve support to the customers by improving upon its expertise both mobile and fixed services.
  3. To find itself at the forefront of communications services providers in Norway.
    Since the company is the leader in a broad range of services in both the residential and business markets in Norway, Telenor will try to obtain better results in the sense of its profit in the mobile and fixed fields of activity, through the introduction of new services and through various cost-cutting measures.
  4. Maintaining of the position of the leader in field of distribution of TV services to consumers in the Nordic region. Telenor additionally insists on finding new possibilities and solutions which will contribute to the strengthening of its strategic position as the leading distributor of subscription based television in the Nordic region. The company will dedicate its activities to contact and attract new users and increase revenue per user through its attractive content and new interactive services.
  5. Non – strategic companies. Telenor will enhance the value of those companies, which are not strategic for its main business areas and dispose of all or part of its interest in such companies.

1.2. Regional presence

Even though Telenor is present in the three dominant regions of the world, the Nordic region is the one where Telenor group has been present since 1855, and the company has held a strong position in the Scandinavian region ever since. The Nordic region is the one from which the majority of Telenor`s income comes from. As it is shown in diagrams 1 and 2, in the first quarter of 2009, 41% of total company revenues came from this region, as well as 37% of EBITDA[3] distribution.

 

The three markets out of which the Nordic region is composed of, in fact represent specific markets with unique differences. For example, although Sweden still has a high use of fixed – line telephony, it finds itself at the forefront of the mobile broadband services. Denmark is the market whose customers are the keenest users of SMS and are most interested in content services. Finally, Norwegian customers show growing interest in digital music services and Telenor Group has a high share on this market. The Nordic region is also significant since Telenor combines present and future technologies in the telecom field. As a supplement to existing offers, Telenor provides new broadband technologies, such as Fibre – to – the – Home (FTH) and Long Term Evolution (LTE), the 4th generation mobile broadband standard. The strong distinction between fixed and mobile telephony is slowly vanishing in these markets. According to the data obtained from…..there is an evident transition from fixed to mobile networks. The data implicate that the mobile share of voice traffic has increased from 20% in 2003 to 60% in 2008. This is one of the reasons why Telenor acquired Vodafone in Sweden in 2006. Furthermore, the company now has 4G licenses in Norway and Sweden. In order to build networks and share spectrum of mobile communication, Telenor has joined Tele2[4] in a joint venture. The plan is to launch the LTE – based broadband services by the end of 2010. This action will position Telenor as the leader of the 4G development worldwide. The same project is planned for Norway, with the difference that it will start in 2011.

The Telenor Group has penetrated the Asian region in 1996, through the investment in Grameenphone[5] in Bangladesh. From the very beginning of its operations in Asia, the market has been the cornerstone of the development of the Telenor Group, enabling opportunities for growth in one of the most populated and fastest growing markets in the world. Additionally, mobile operations in Asia have a significant contribution to the total revenues and EBITDA of the Group. Data obtained in the first quarter of 2009 show that the region generated 30% of the revenues, 28% of the Group’s EBITDA, and a total of 67 million mobile subscribers of the region. The company has received many awards for innovation and services in the past ten years and has been the driving force in the network development of Asia. Additionally, it has significantly increased the capacity of the regional network and provided coverage, connecting millions of people in new areas, who were previously unconnected. Over the past few years the Asian mobile market has been growing significantly. The growth is additionally stimulated by continuous innovations and new services provided by the company. The Group is active in the markets of Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh, and the company holds 3G license in Malaysia. Another important step of Telenor was the acquisition of Unitech Wireless[6] in India, through which the company penetrated one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the mobile markets of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia became a part of Telenor`s business operations. The main characteristic of these markets is the growth opportunity, making it significant part of the Telenor`s strategy in the years to come. Even though the markets of Central and Eastern Europe are challenging economic environment due to the process of transition, which these countries have undergone or are still undergoing, mobile operations of the Group deliver solid financial performances. The first quarter of 2009 shows that Telenor generated 17% of Group’s total revenues and 32% of EBITDA. The region also generated 93 million of mobile subscribers. Also, the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia has achieved rapid growth in mobile subscription both in consumer, as well as business markets. The company is currently involved in investments in the 3G network in Hungary, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro. The priority is given to the new technological and eco – friendly solutions, like the wind and solar powered base stations in Hungary, and testing of the new generation wireless broadband in Montenegro.

2. Telenor in Serbia

Telenor`s presence in the Balkan region started at the beginning of 1990s when the company launched its operations in Hungary in 2002 by operating Pannon[7], followed by activities in Montenegro through Promonte[8] and finally, Serbia in 2006.

Telenor penetrated the Serbian market through the purchase of the Serbian company Mobi 63, Serbia’s second largest mobile operator and this actually represents the largest privatization transaction in the central and eastern Europe in 2006, as reported by the audit company PriceWaterHouseCoopers. Telenor Group outbid two other short listed competitors at the auction (Mobilkom from Austria and Orascom Telecom from Egypt), offering a bid of 1.513 billion euros. Telenor took over the company on 31st of July 2006, upon the completion of all legal requirements and the signing of the Sales Agreement. The entire auction was broadcasted live on the Serbian national television and was attended by the highest state representatives. Mobi 63, formerly known as Mobtel, was formed by the Government of Serbia in the month of April of 2006, upon the revocation of the operator’s mobile license, which occurred due to the illegal dealings of the company’s previous owners, who were suspected to have sold the operator’s license in Kosovo to Mobikos, without requesting permission from the official authorities of Serbia. The Government then proclaimed that the sale was a threat to the national security.

The acquisition of Mobi 63 made by Telenor includes a ten – year license for GSM 900/1800 and 3G operation for the company, which is renewable for a successive period of ten years upon application. Additionally, the company also obtained Mobi 63`s existing assets, which included the base of approximately 2.5 million customers (in the end of 2005).

In just three months upon its arrival to the Serbian market, Telenor invested approximately 15.3 million euros in the equipment of the highest technology, necessary to meet the requirements of the planned network expansion on the territory of Serbia. For this purpose, Telenor signed cooperation agreement with Erickson. Additionally, another contract with the Erickson Company worth 40 million euros for the purpose of network improvement was signed by the end of 2006. The main objective of these investments was to upgrade the quality and the capacity of the existing network, which consequently brings additional quality and services to its users. The actual benefit for the users of the Telenor network is its expanded coverage and good quality. Starting form March 1st 2007, the company enabled the use of commercial services in Serbia, provided by the 3G mobile broadband technology, which consequently provides its users with the possibility to get easier and faster access to the contents on the internet, such as movies, music videos or TV program.

2.1. Relationship towards the employees

When Telenor acquired Mobi 63 in August 2006, the company had 926 employees. The newly appointed top management reached a strategic decision to take over the entire infrastructure of the company, as well as its personnel, meaning that there will not be any reduction in the number of employees. In fact, quite the opposite thing occurred in the next three years: the number of employees gradually started growing. In the end of 2007 there had been approximately 1000 employees. By the end of 2008, this number grew to 1100, and finally on December 31st 2009, Telenor had a total of 1207 employees.

 

Having in mind that the field of telecommunications is exposed to everyday changes, Telenor`s employees are expected to adapt to them, set their own objectives in their segment of work, as well as to take on new responsibilities and discover their new talents. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, the company organized a number of trainings, seminars and workshops for its personnel. Through these actions, Telenor tends to provide continuous professional growth and expertise opportunities. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Trainings for future leaders
  • Welcome trainings
  • Codes of conduct
  • Human resource management
  • Communication skills trainings

Telenor`s Code of Conduct is one of the key principles upon which the activities of the company are based. This document includes a set of employee policies that cover ethical and legal practices for nearly every aspect of the business. It focuses on the personal responsibility and each employee has to conduct business legally and ethically. Also, it defines ethical rules of behavior for the company’s business partners, as well as users. Corporate ethics is very important in the company. The principles of corporate ethics are applicable to all members of the company, including the members of the managing board and top management and all other employees, who represent Telenor on any occasions. Furthermore, the company launched the so called HIT Project, which was encouraged by the television reportage made on one of Telenor`s subcontractors in Bangladesh, who was an obvious example of a company which contributes to bad work conditions, pollution of the environment and child labor. The project focuses on four elements: health, safety, security and environment, and its main objective is for Telenor to emphasize to its business partners the importance of respecting labor and human rights laws. Therefore, Telenor follows the activities of its suppliers in the field and remains in constant touch with them.

Furthermore, human resource management conducts the employee satisfaction survey on a yearly basis in order to get a feed back from the employees about the level of their satisfaction, as well as the issues that could be improved and changed within the company. In 2009, the survey was conducted for the third consecutive year and a total percentage of employees which participated was 96.3%. The survey is conducted among all employees in the end of every working year, and concentrates on several important areas of employee satisfaction: satisfaction with job position and work conditions, communication and interpersonal relations within the company, leadership, bonus systems and career opportunities. Results obtained from the survey serve as the foundation for strategy planning for the upcoming years. This point is of particular importance in order to include the opinion of the staff in the process of future strategy defining and decision – making, so that everyone can feel that they are a part of it.

2.2. Relationship with clients

Top management of the company tends to combine its international experience and the local potential of the country where it operates. In the first year of its activities in the Serbian market, Telenor introduced a large number of significant innovations and new services important for the subscribers. Some of the most innovative products and services offered to the Serbian users are:

  • New prepaid telephone numbers and new channel of sale Telenor Express.
  • Mobile e – mail service.
  • The first internet parks in Serbia.
  • Cheaper roaming prices for Telenor users in Hungary and Montenegro

Telenor express is the channel of direct sales to customers, which has long and successful tradition in other markets where the company conducts its activities. The new prepaid numbers were introduced in all newspaper stands in Serbia, but could also be purchased through the Telenor Express channel of sale. Approximately twenty five express sales teams are traveling throughout Serbia with specially designed sales stands. In this way the company tries to have direct contact with the customers, to be closer and more available to them, as well as to offer new and innovative sales possibilities and good quality services. Additionally, new prepaid numbers are offered at a much lower rate than previously applied, and each package has higher value than the nominal value of the package. Persons, who decide to purchase a more expensive package, get substantially more free conversation minutes, as well as free text messages, than the ones who purchase a cheaper package.

Mobile e-mail is a service dedicated firstly to those who are business users, with the main purpose to facilitate their activities when they find themselves outside the office and need immediate access to their computers. Furthermore, this service enables its users to access and handle their e-mails, calendar and phonebook. The service is compatible to the programs used on their original computers, and can be used by downloading a special software from the Telenor website.

From December 1st 2006, Telenor users have the possibility to pay lower prices for roaming services in Hungary and Montenegro, thanks to Telenor network. At the same time, these prices are the lowest prices in comparison to other mobile operators in Serbia. On average, with this service, Telenor users in the Montenegro` s network Promonte are charged 15% less for their voice calls. Additionally, incoming calls from any destination are free of charge for postpaid users in this network. As far as the Hungarian Pannon mobile operator is concerned, prices of outgoing calls are approximately 60% lower, calls made to local mobile and fixed telephone numbers are 25% cheaper, including incoming calls. Calls made to other destinations are 40% cheaper. Additionally, Telenor subscribers have the opportunity to exchange MMS messages with people in ten different countries. The first countries and operators which established this kind of service with Telenor in Serbia are: 02 in Germany, Pannon in Hungary, Telenor in Pakistan, Telefonica 02 in Checz Republic, Sonofon in Denmark, Sunrise in Switzerland, ONE in Austria, Globul in Bulgaria, Telenor in Norway and DIGI in Malaysia.

In June 2008, Telenor opened the first internet park in Belgrade, which at the same time represents the first park of this kind in Serbia. People can have free access to the internet and connecting of their portable computers to the internet network is possible either through the wireless connection, or via USB modems, which are located in different places in the park. In the first three months, citizens of Belgrade, as well as other visitors, had the opportunity to test all possibilities of the Internet network free of charge, while enjoying the open air at the same time. Instructions for the connection to the network are displayed on visible places in the park and offer simple explanations through several easy steps. In just several months upon the opening of the first internet park in Belgrade, similar concept was implemented in other Serbian cities: Nis, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Kraljevo. In this way, citizens of these cities have the possibility to check their e-mails or search the internet sites for various contents.

2.3. Corporate responsibility, young and socially jeopardized categories.

Mobile communications contribute to the social integration, having in mind the fact that people can be in touch no matter where they find themselves. However, for a significant number of people worldwide, communication services still represent a luxury and are not available to them. Access to this type of services, in a way, represents the means to fight poverty, ignorance and bad health conditions, as well as to enable people to improve their living situation. One of the main objectives of Telenor is to strive towards creation of value in modern society by offering the possibility of communication services to as many people as possible.

In 2007, the auditing company Deloit did a thorough analysis of Telenor`s markets in Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Ukraine and Serbia which pointed to a very close connection between mobile telephony penetration and the increase of the GDP exists. The analysis pointed out to the fact that the increase of 10% in mobile communications could lead to the GDP rise of approximately 1.2%. Furthermore, the study showed that business operations of Telenor have positive contribution to the upgrading of the productivity level, economic welfare, improvements in health and education systems, improvement of conditions in rural areas and social groups with low incomes.

Besides the focus on its business operations, Telenor also directs its activities towards the responsibility towards the local community in which it operates. An evidence to support this claim is the fact that Telenor Group is listed in the first position among twenty four leading mobile operators in the world on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index list, which ranks companies according to the criteria of their overall financial, social and ecological impact on the environment.

Upon its arrival to the Serbian market, the top management of the company immediately started to develop different strategies concerning the beginning of the work in the field of corporate responsibility. For that purpose, Telenor established its own Foundation in March 2007, and in this way the company continued to invest in the development of Serbia’s social potentials.

“The main objective of the Foundation is to initiate and support different types of projects and to develop useful and sustainable solutions which are easy to implement on the territory of the entire country. This is the core concept upon which the corporate responsibility of the company is based and which is being implemented world wide. Members of the Foundation’s Managing Board were chosen upon the criteria of their expertise in different fields and this enabled for the activities of the Foundation to be guided not only by the company’s business plans, but also to adequately respond to the necessities of the Serbian society, its growth and development. Additionally, members of the top and middle management are directly involved in the projects of the Foundation and follow their course. Employees are also invited to participate and to set an example by their involvement, volunteer work and individual efforts.”

Majority of the activities and projects which the Foundation conducts are directed towards the young population, their education and professional expertise, socially jeopardized categories, as well as the development of cultural production and art.

Telenor`s Foundation accomplishes set objectives through various forms of initiatives:

  • Cooperation with non – governmental sector, public and private institutions in different types of projects.
  • Programs of exchange of experts in the field of science and art, as well as providing opportunities for professional internships and scholarships.
  • Exchange of information.
  • Establishing the practice of round tables, seminars, conferences and other events which are in any way linked to the activities of Telenor.
  • Organizing of tenders through which different types of trainings and research are offered.

Particular emphasis is put on the young generation and talented people and socially jeopardized categories.

2.3.1. Activities of Telenor directed towards young population

Foundation launches special programs, seminars lectures, classes and offers scholarships to those who are perceived as young experts in the fields which are relevant for Telenor`s activities.

In 2007, Telenor introduced the award “Professor Ilija Stojanović” in memory of professor Ilija Stojanovic, who was closely connected to the company and participated in its activities from the very beginning of its operations in Serbia. Every year the award of 1500 euros is given to young students, scientists and researchers for their achievements in the field of telecommunications, in three categories:

  • Best paper / project in the field of telecommunications chosen from the Conference for electronics, telecommunications, informatics, automatics and nuclear technique, held on a yearly basis.
  • Best paper / project chosen from the Telflor (yearly conference), held on a yearly basis.
  • Best student of the Graduate School of Electro-technique (course telecommunications).

The Foundation was among the first initiators for the cleaning of neglected areas of Belgrade. Participants of the campaign “Recycling of landscapes: Be creative and revive the city” were pupils of Belgrade high – schools and various artists and the entire project was conducted on ten city locations: open cinemas in Vracar[9] and Zvezdara[10] municipality, summer stage and Pioneer city in Kosutnjak, yard filed of abandoned factory, Zvezdani gaj and other locations. The campaign was lasted throughout 2009 and in this period the locations have been cleaned, painted and decorated with art works. There had been approximately 1000 participants in the campaign and they had the opportunity to get acquainted with the creative art process. Development of the environment awareness was one of the key priorities of the project, which was realized in cooperation with the Belgrade City Assembly and Secretariat for sport and youth. The project became the part of the leading environmental project in Serbia “Let`s wake Serbia up”, under the patronage of the Ministry for the Environment Protection. ,

In cooperation with the National Television of Serbia, Telenor joined the campaign “Skola je Skul (School is Cool)”, which promotes school spirit, representing the most active schools that use creative methods


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