Sonera (formerly Tele/Telecom Finland) is a Finnish telecommunications juggernaut, conquering Europe and the rest of the world shall follow.

They're famous for being a telephone operator (for both landlines and mobile networks) and an ISP.

Sonera is currently the Finland's leading GSM service provider.

Sonera's daughter companies run Sonera Plaza (a Finnish web portal with a rather nice search engine that finds mostly everything from Finnish pages) and Sonera Zed (SMS service provider), and they also have several less "visible" daughter companies (such as Sonera Living that cooperates with builder companies to make homes with broadband net connections and Sonera Carrier Networks that maintains the carrier network.)

Sonera's plans for world domination took a bit of a hit when the telecommunications industry imploded in 2001, saddling them with some €4.5 billion of debt, mainly for the German UMTS (3G) licenses they had purchased for an exorbitant price. The company skirted dangerously close to bankruptcy in autumn 2001, but was rescued by a combination of a stock offer and an injection of nearly €1 billion from Finnish taxpayers. Following large layoffs, closing most overseas operations and selling off non-essential assets, they had reduced their debt load to a mere €2.5 billion.

On March 26, 2002, Sonera announced its merger with the Swedish telecoms giant Telia. Shades of Nordea, the combined company will have some 35,000 employees and a market share of over 50% in Finland, Sweden and the Baltic countries, as well as significant stakes in Denmark, Turkey, Russia and much of the CIS. Telia being twice as big as Sonera, Sonera will retain only 36% of the shares in the new company, and the headquarters of the new company will move to Stockholm, Sweden.

However, it is interesting to note that public opinion in Finland about the status of Sonera seems to be very high. On March 27 on Finnish Aamu-TV the presenters asked the CEO of Sonera whether or not his company was better known around the world than Telia. He responded affirmatively, though the current Telia is indeed larger (and wealthier) than Sonera.

What happens with this new company forming out of the merger between Telia and Sonera ("Solia", "Tenera"?) is for now anybody's guess.

The new company is Telia-Sonera, placing the larger and more estabilished Telia first, connected to the merged Sonera by a hyphen. The managing director of Telia, Anders Igel, may not participate in the board of directors of the new company. The Finnish government, part-owners of Sonera, were adamant that this was against a deal signed between the Finnish and Swedish governments, stating that equal representation of both nationalities is needed in companies such as the new Telia-Sonera.

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