France Telecom extends bid deadline for TeliaSonera

From the sometimes "deadline" means "guideline" file: France Telecom has extended its "absolute deadline" of Thursday to a more genteel open-ended time frame, hoping Nordic carrier TeliaSonera would find the approach less threatening.

FT gave TeliaSonera until June 19 to begin talks when it made the $42.1 billion offer for the Swedish-Finnish telecom on June 5, saying it would walk away if they hadn't begun. But the bid was rejected immediately by TeliaSonera's board and the Swedish government--which owns slightly more than a third of the company--as being too low. FT's stock has taken a pounding since it made its original offer by investors wary of the former monopoly's poor acquisition record.

This may not exactly be an "Aha! moment," but TeliaSonera's lack of excitement over FT's takeover bid may be rooted in a now-public report from Sweden's National Audit Office that rips the government for offering an 8 percent stake in the telecom at a fire-sale price of $3 billion last year. Telia shares were sold via Deutsche Bank and UBS at nearly 12 percent below market price. " Better handling of the banks making the sale would probably have raised the government's costs, but at the same time could have raised the receipts significantly," the audit office said.

For more:
- See the story in the Financial Times
- See this Financial Times story on the audit