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UPDATE 2-Telia to cut costs as new CEO sets out strategy

* To cut around 1,000 staff, consultants this year

* Sees 2021 earnings, service revenues flat to slightly up

* Aiming for 5 bln crown boost to EBITDA by 2025 (Adds CFO, analyst comment, shares)

STOCKHOLM, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Telia aims to cut 4 billion Swedish crowns ($478 million) of costs through 2025, including shedding around 1,000 staff and consultants this year, the Nordic telecoms firm said on Friday, as its new chief executive seeks to boost returns.

Since taking over the top job last year, Allison Kirkby has been streamlining operations, raising investor hopes she can spur growth and shareholder returns.

Kirkby, a former CEO at rival telecom operators Tele2 and TDC, has also landed crucial deals like selling Telia’s stake in mobile operator Turkcell, and its international carrier business.

The company said on Friday it was aiming to boost EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) by 3 billion crowns by 2023 and 5 billion by 2025, while cutting operating expenses by 2 billion by 2023 and 4 billion by 2025.

It expects to shed around 1,000 employees and consultants this year, Chief Financial Officer Per Christian Morland told an investor brief.

Equity research firm Inderes said in a note the new financial targets were “quite achievable”, adding that when realised, they would change Telia’s investment profile into a solid “results grower”.

Telia, which reported fourth-quarter core results in line with its guidance, said it expected earnings and service revenue to be flat or grow by a low single digit percentage in 2021.

The firm, which had announced a 2 crowns per share dividend for 2020, added it would to grow dividends in future by a low to mid-single digit percentage.

Quarterly-adjusted EBITDA was 7.48 billion crowns ($894 million), down from 7.91 billion a year earlier.

Telia said last week its adjusted EBITDA would be broadly in line with its outlook of around 30.5 billion crowns for 2020, implying around 7.28 billion for the quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenues rose 2.7% to 23.5 billion crowns. Telia shares were down 0.3% at 1228 GMT.

$1 = 8.37 Swedish crowns Reporting by Helena Soderpalm. Editing by Johannes Hellstrom and Mark Potter

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