Telia’s new CEO has high hopes for the future

Patrik Hofbauer, Telia CEO – from 1 February 2024.

Patrik Hofbauer, Telia CEO – from 1 February 2024.

  • Telia recently welcomed its new CEO, Patrik Hofbauer
  • He is confident that he can build on the legacy of his predecessor, Allison Kirkby
  • And expects further gains driven by the telco’s strategy and sustainability efforts

Telia’s new CEO, Patrik Hofbauer, has used the company’s 2023 Annual and sustainability report to support his bullishness about the future execution of the telco’s growth strategy and sustainability goals.

Hofbauer, who came into office on 1 February 2024 after his predecessor Allison Kirkby left for the top job at BT, is “very excited” about the future, as he is “inspired” by the progress Telia has made in the past year, Kirkby’s last in charge of the operator – see As she heads to BT, Allison Kirkby leaves Telia in decent shape.

Telia’s president and CEO highlighted increases in overall revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) for 2023 and noted that, last year, revenues were up by 3.7% to 88.8bn Swedish kronor (SEK) ($8.54bn), while adjusted EBITDA increased 4.5% to SEK30.3bn ($2.9bn). 

In 2023, Telia’s top-performing markets were Latvia (with revenue growing 16.3% year on year), Lithuania (up 15.3%), Estonia (up 14%) and Finland (up 9.1%). In its home market of Sweden, revenue rose by 2.2% on a yearly basis, while in Norway it increased a mere 0.6%.

As part of a broader trend across the industry, last year was also about tightening the purse strings for Telia. Its capital expenditure (capex), excluding fees for licences, spectrum and right-of-use assets, decreased by 10.7% to SEK13.6bn (US$1.3bn), driven by lower investment levels in most telco operations. And its operating expenses (opex) declined 11.7% to SEK85bn (US$8bn).

The group ended 2023 with a total of 25.2 million subscriptions (up from 24.3 million in 2022), of which 18.6 million were mobile, 3.2 million were fixed broadband, and 3.4 million were TV subscriptions.

Looking ahead, Telia expects service revenue to grow by low single digits in 2024, while adjusted EBITDA is expected to grow by low to mid-single digits. Its capex target for the year is estimated to be similar to its level in 2023 at circa SEK14bn (US$1.34bn).

“While we believe we have a good strategy in place, it’s very important to me, my leadership team, the board, our employees, our customers and our shareholders, that we continue to execute. In fact, given the importance of digitalisation in the modern world, I believe that Telia makes a vital contribution to all of the countries in which it operates. Sustainability is at the top of our agenda and informs everything we do, helping us to create value for all of our stakeholders while reducing our negative impact on the planet,” Hofbauer noted.

For example, he pointed to the 87% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from its own operations (scope 1 and scope 2) that it has achieved since 2018, adding that Telia is “well on its way” to reaching its goal of a 90% reduction by the end of the decade.

He noted that suppliers responsible for 52% of its supply chain emissions from purchased goods and services and capital goods had set science-based climate targets, which are expected to reduce the operator’s Scope 3 emissions further down the line. Telia is aiming to decrease its carbon footprint across the whole value chain by at least 90% by 2040.

Telia’s new chief also claimed the operator’s remote meeting services and internet of things (IoT) solutions for buildings, transport and utilities helped its customers to reduce their own carbon dioxide emissions by more than 433,000 tonnes, while retiring more than half of its legacy products and about 60% of its legacy platforms helped it boost its sustainability credentials. He added that AI and robotic process automation “are also improving efficiency, reducing costs and enhancing customer experience, and in 2023 their use saved an estimated 300,000 hours, giving our employees time to focus on more strategic work.”

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.