Light Reading

Euronews: TV Sport Boosts BT's Q3

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice IPO; EC inspects Telefónica/E-Plus merger; Vodafone meets 3G obligations.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s foray into the world of top-dollar sports content on its pay-TV service seems to be paying off for the UK giant, with revenues up 2% to £4.59 billion (US$7.56 billion) in its fiscal third quarter and profits up 6% to £617 million ($1.01 billion). Its BT Sport customer base passed 2.5 million subscribers in the quarter, while 228,000 residential fiber broadband customers were added, bringing the total of FTTX connections up to 1.9 million. It's a less rosy picture in the Wholesale division, where revenue slumped 9% to £539 million ($887 million) for various reasons, not least the termination of a major contract with the Post Office and lower levels of network build from some of its customers. (See BT Reports Fiscal Q3 and BT's Got Balls.)

  • French cable and telecom services holding company Altice has begun trading on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange with a launch share price of €28.25. The IPO, which has seen 22.8% of the company's total stock being available to public investors, raised €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) in total, with about €750 million ($1.01 billion) going to the company and €555 million ($752 million) to Next LP, a company owned by Altice executive chairman Patrick Drahi. The IPO values the company at more than €5.7 billion, which, according to Altice, makes this the "largest ever IPO of a cable operator in EMEA." Altice holds a 40% stake in French cable operator Numericable-SFR but plans to increase that holding to take a controlling stake, and also has a presence in Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, the French West Indies, and the Dominican Republic. By late morning on its first day of trading, Altice's shares were up by 2.8% to €29.05.

  • The European Commission has slapped down the German regulator and is insisting that it will be the suits in Brussels, and not those in Bonn, who will pronounce on the proposed acquisition of E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG by Telefónica Deutschland GmbH . Germany had put in a request that the matter be referred to its own competition authority, but the Commission haughtily concluded that it was more experienced in such matters. It has to make a final decision on the proposed acquisition by May 14. If the acquisition goes ahead, it will reduce the number of mobile operators in Germany from four to three -- hence the disquiet in some quarters. (See Euronews: KPN to Sell E-Plus for €8.1B.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has received the thumbs-up from UK regulator Ofcom for finally meeting its 3G coverage obligations. In November Ofcom had said that all the UK mobile operators bar Vodafone had met their obligation to cover 90% of UK homes by June 2013. To pass muster, Vodafone had to upgrade 129 mobile transmitter sites.

  • Following the news that Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) CEO Hans Vestberg had ruled himself out from the soon-to-be-vacant Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO job, it seems like a Chosen One has at last emerged: Bloomberg reports that Satya Nadella, currently Microsoft's enterprise and cloud chief, is the new Steve Ballmer. But with a bit more hair.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Blogger
    1/31/2014 | 10:38:27 PM
    Nadella reportedly has been leading a lot of the cloud efforts at Microsoft, which i guess is where you want to place your bets if you look internally for a new leader.
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/31/2014 | 8:34:17 PM
    So Altive is making a killing onthe IPO, eh? I wonder of Numericable will share in the benefits of that at all. I'll bet their plant could stand a little investment these days. Any word on that, Paul?   
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