The poor sentiment towards telecoms

The Norwegian telecoms company owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries believes it can buck the negative sentiment in European telecoms with a successful float of the business by the end of the year. Ice Group, Norway’s third-largest telecoms company, plans to raise NKr3 billion (£275 million) by floating the company in Oslo. It intends to expand its 4G network to 95 per cent of Norway and prepare for the launch of 5G services. It would be the first initial public offering in European telecoms since Play Communications in Poland in 2017 and DNA in Finland in 2016. Other substantial planned listings, notably Telefónica’s UK operator O2, have yet to take place due partly to the poor sentiment towards the sector. The MSCI Europe Telecoms Services ETF has dropped 7.2 per cent in the past year. Play’s shares have halved since its float but DNA’s have doubled, which has given Ice confidence that Nordic sentiment is stronger. Access Industries owns more than 60 per cent of Ice shares, having bankrolled the transformation of the business from a niche mobile broadband player into a fully fledged mobile phone company in Norway. Other investors include Goldman Sachs and Rasmussengruppen, the shipping and real estate company.

Nic Fildes

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