Telia Carrier, which was bought by Swedish pension funds for €935m last year, has been renamed Arelion. Employees around the world were notified of the new name in January.
“It’s important to stay connected. We’re still the same company, the same people,” Chief Executive Staffan Göjeryd said in an exclusive interview with Capacity ahead of the official announcement.
For the industry in general and for customers, only the name and ownership has changed: Arelion is still AS1299, although it’s still called Telia Carrier in many autonomous system listings on the internet.
“Becoming separate from Telia Company and being our own identity is a very important part of the journey,” says Göjeryd, who joined Telia Group in 1995, just two years after it began building an international carrier network. During this time he has worked in Sweden, the USA and elsewhere.
Rebrandings are nothing new for the device. Swedish company Telia and Finnish company Sonera merged in 2002 when the company was renamed TeliaSonera and its global arm became TeliaSonera International Carrier. Over time, Sonera was removed from the main corporate identity and global wholesale entity.
International later disappeared as well and the business simply became Telia Carrier – until January 2022.
Göjeryd admits that the name change took “a bit of time” but he sees it as “important internally and externally”. It’s about building international pride and defining ourselves.”
Arelion – pronounced “ah-ray-li-yon” – is based on the word “reliable,” says Maja Sever, chief marketing officer. The arelion.com website went online on January 19: its dominant color is purple.
“The new visual identity comes from the heart of what we do,” says Sever. It stands for “connectivity and the role we play – and how light can be used”.
The rebranded company will expand from its traditional core business of telecom carriers to enterprises under its new ownership, Göjeryd said. “We will continue to focus on the core of the past 20 years, [but] We’re seeing a lot of companies going internet-first,” he says.
Businesses are increasingly looking to connect consumers, which Göjeryd acknowledges is “a big shift from what they were doing before. Many companies are moving in this direction,” he says.
“It’s about understanding where the market is going and where we’re going as an organization. We still have a strong foothold in what we’re known for. Connectivity is becoming increasingly important for different customer segments.”
In October 2020, Telia Company, Arelion’s former parent company, announced that it was selling its global operation, Telia Carrier, to Polhem Infra, an infrastructure investor owned by Swedish pension funds, for 9,450 million kroner (935 million euros). It was a move totally unexpected by the industry. The two companies said they would enter into a “strategic long-term partnership.”
At the time, Allison Kirkby, Group CEO of Telia said: “I am confident that this will happen under Staffan Göjeryd’s continued leadership. … Polhem Infra will be an excellent owner for Telia Carrier and that the company will continue to grow under her leadership.”
This was the first major change at Telia since Kirkby took over as group CEO in May 2020, although previous executives oversaw a phased exit from investments in Central Asia and elsewhere.
According to a statement from Telia at the time, the acquisition was Polhem Infra’s first investment in digital infrastructure. However, Polhem Infra’s statement puts it a little differently: “Polhem Infra’s strategy is to create value by investing in companies that own and operate infrastructure assets that provide essential services to society.”
Polhem Infra is jointly owned by three Swedish pension funds which, according to the Swedish government, are required to manage their capital in a way that maximizes the benefit of the country’s pension system. This means that their mission is to invest their capital in a way that generates high long-term returns with low risk.
In 2020, Mikael Lundin, who was CEO of Polhem Infra, said: “As an investor in Nordic infrastructure, we will be a stable and long-term committed owner [Telia Carrier] and its role in the transition to sustainable and thriving societies worldwide. We will support the company with a guiding board and continue to invest in digital infrastructure, a core investment area for us.”
So far, Polhem Infra only lists two other investments besides Arelion: Solör Bioenergy Group – a renewable energy company with offices in Norway and Sweden – and a wind power company, Skaftåsen.
Different way to market
Telia Carrier’s sale closed in June 2021 and it took another seven months to announce the new identity.
Göjeryd says the new brand will be “a different way for us to market ourselves”.
“It’s important to gamble on the potential future, to push through [to new markets],” he adds.
Göjeryd says Arelion’s strongest positions are in North America (its biggest market is the US) and Europe, and it has additional businesses in Asia.
Now that the rebrand is complete, Göjeryd says his plans for Arelion are to push into “nearby markets,” densify its network “to get closer to users,” and “maybe add a few more data centers.”
Göjeryd points to the expansion of entertainment companies that are “moving to internet-first. They have their own needs – and that is where our skills lie”.
He insists Arelion will not step on his clients’ turf. “We’re trying to come up with a solution that can support them,” he says. “We still have the strongest foothold in what we’re known for.”
A little playfulness
As the company changes, Göjeryd and his colleagues don’t want to “get bored,” says Göjeryd. He says, “It’s important for us to stay connected, but we want to keep a little bit of playfulness.”
Sever, who led the rebrand as head of brand, marketing and communications, says Arelion’s star-shaped logo represents a network map and “the convergence of local networks.”
“It also represents a luminous star,” she adds, noting its naming similarity to Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. Design company Bold Scandinavia has also turned this star into a spinning globe on Arelion’s website.
A survey of customers found that they rated the former Telia carrier highly for “quality, prestige and professionalism,” she says. “We were surprised that they rated us so highly.”
The brand has also designed a new typeface, Arelion Sans, she says. There is also a display version that connects individual letters to convey the theme of “Keeping the world connected” – a theme used by other telecom organizations since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the Global Leaders’ Forum, the group that supports International Telecom Week.
Arelion has already found out that there is a company of the same name based in Bavaria. However, as a debt collection agency specializing in the healthcare sector, it is by no means a competitor.
Arelion is also the hero of a number of online games and books. The Amazon UK blurb for Sword of Arelion – the first volume of Amanda S Green’s Sword of the Gods trilogy – reads: “War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardaean Empire are threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion have sworn to protect the Empire and enforce the Codes.” With any luck, the future for Göjeryds Arelion will be more peaceful.