Troubled Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor has moved far from its roots as Norway’s public telephone and telegraph utility. Now it’s severing more of them, after deciding to sell the historic building in Oslo where much of its operations began, the iconic Telegrafbygningen.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Telenor, currently caught up in corruption allegations at its partly owned VimpelCom Ltd, hopes to get around NOK 500 million (USD 58 million) for the building, which covers nearly a square block in downtown Oslo.
The buyer will get in return marble stairways, a specially designed- and built chandelier and other trappings customary of the early 1920s, when the building opened. The building was the product of two of Norway’s best-known architects at the time, Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson, who also designed City Hall. It served as the headquarters for the state utility Telegrafverket, which later became Telenor, until 1962 with around 1,000 employees, most of them women who served as telephone operators.
Telenor now thinks the massive but rather ornate building might become a hotel or be refashioned into a modern office building. It’s possible the former “director general’s” office will be preserved, along with its private bathroom and discreet back entrance.