(Adds CEO interview, detail on strategy, 5G)
STOCKHOLM, April 23 (Reuters) - Telia’s first-quarter core earnings beat expectations on Friday as CEO Allison Kirkby presses on with streamlining in response to a pandemic that has closed shops and hit roaming revenue at the Nordic telecom operator.
Kirkby launched a strategy in January to cut 4 billion Swedish crowns ($475 million) in costs and around 1,000 jobs.
“We have taken 40% of the planned workforce reductions for this year already by March 31,” Kirkby said in an interview. “We are already starting to see early signs of progress on our new strategy.”
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation slipped to 7.25 billion crowns from 7.28 billion but beat the 7.19 billion expected by analysts, Refinitiv estimates showed.
Revenue fell 2.7% to 21.81 billion crowns, in line with analysts’ estimates of 21.66 billion crowns.
The impact on roaming revenue alone was 250 million crowns.
Telia has created a separate unit for its more than 9,000 telecom towers and is reviewing its assets in Norway and Finland.
European telecom operators are increasingly here looking at either selling towers outright for a hefty price to finance 5G rollouts or launching joint ventures with independent tower companies as a way to retain potential future growth.
Telia, which has been rolling out 5G across the Nordics, has had many companies show interest in its tower assets, Kirkby said.
About 60 to 70% of Finland’s population will be covered by 5G by the end of this year, all of the key cities will be covered in Norway and Sweden will be close behind Norway, she said.
$1 = 8.4217 Swedish crowns Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely