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Telenor Norway head leaves after failing to agree new role

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Telenor Norway head leaves after failing to agree new role
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Telenor flag flutters next to the company's headquarters in Fornebu, Norway, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo/File Photo   -   Copyright  Ints Kalnins(Reuters)
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By Camilla Knudsen and Ole Petter Skonnord

OSLO (Reuters) – The head of Telenor’s <TEL.OL> Norwegian business is leaving the group after failing to agree a new role as the company looks to develop potential new leaders in the face of a rapidly changing global telecoms market.

Oslo-listed Telenor is one of the world’s largest mobile operators with around 178 million subscribers across Scandinavia and Asia. The company’s operations in Norway contributed about a quarter of the group’s total operating profit of 26.7 billion Norwegian crowns in 2017.

Berit Svendsen, 55, will be replaced as chief executive of Telenor Norway by Petter Furberg, 51, Telenor’s regional head for emerging Asian markets, the company said in a statement.

Gunn Waersted, Telenor’s board chair regretted that Svendsen had not accepted new roles offered to her as the company wanted potential future leaders to gain broader experience.

“The Group CEO has really tried to accommodate her (Svendsen’s) wishes,” Waersted said, adding that Chief Executive Sigve Brekke had the board’s support in his efforts to develop internal successor candidates.

Brekke said that among other positions he offered Svendsen the chance to lead Telenor’s business in Thailand, as well as to chair the board of Telenor Norway, but she had declined.

He told a news conference it was “totally wrong” to assume that he wanted to push her out as some Norwegian media have reported.

“I really hoped to continue working with Berit, while I was also clear that as leaders in Telenor, we must be prepared to rotate in the roles in order to increase the pool of competence and experience,” he said in a statement.

Brekke, 58, who has led the company since 2015, has no set term for his contract and hasn’t publicly indicated how long he intends to serve.

Svendsen has been the CEO of Telenor Norway for seven years and has held an additional role of regional head of Scandinavia since March 2017.

“I leave Telenor full of pride over having positively contributed to the company’s development and growth through 30 years,” she said in the statement.

Brekke said there were no plans to change the development strategy at Telenor’s Norwegian unit.

Norwegian market leader Telenor is facing pressure in the country after Swedish operator Telia Company <TELIA.ST> agreed in July to buy TDC’s Norwegian business in a $2.6 billion (2.02 billion pounds) deal.

(Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Keith Weir)

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