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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 13:56 GMT
Telecoms firm cuts launch target
Press release showing reduction in flotation target
Telenor: Not worth as much as the Norwegian government had hoped
The collapse in tech shares worldwide has prompted Norway's government to cut 1bn from its flotation target for the country's leading telecoms company.

Shares in Telenor, which is set to be listed on Monday in a part-privatisation deal, will be floated within a range of 42-46 Norwegian crowns (317-348 pence), instead of the 50-68 crowns (378-514p) earlier predicted.

Dan Melgaard, Telenor spokesman
Dan Melgaard: Postponement would be "disastrous"

And the state-owned company, which blamed "changed market conditions" for the decision, said cancellation of the flotation was still a possibility.

"We can never say this is not an option," company spokesman Dag Melgaard said.

"This is not the primary wish. If we can avoid it we won't."

'Disastrous'

Postponement would be "disastrous" for staff morale, he said.

"We have been training for this for more than one year and would like to get on with it."

Reier Soeberg, director general of Norway's Industry Ministry, said the flotation would go ahead.

"We expect [the sale] will happen in a satisfactory manner" he said.

Share declines

The cut in the flotation price follows recent declines on New York's Nasdaq, the tech-heavy stock market, on which Telenor is set to be listed.

The Nasdaq index at one point on Thursday afternoon fell to half its 5,048.6 peak reached in March.

"The market conditions have worsened significantly lately, and this [cut] is a reaction to that," Mr Soeberg said.

The share falls have followed a series of disappointing figures from tech firms, and concerns over how an economic slowdown in countries such as the UK and, in particular, the US will affect future earnings.

High-speed internet access provider DSL.net became the latest tech firm to confirm investors' concerns, announcing on Friday that it is to cut its workforce by 28%, or 141 jobs in a cost-cutting drive.

Telecoms giant

Telenor, which employs more than 23,000 people and made profits of 3.3bn crowns (249m) last year, will also be listed on Oslo's stock market.

The part-privatisation will see 21% of the firm's shares sold to investors.

With shares launched at the lowest estimate of 317p, the sale would raise 74bn crowns (5.59bn).

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