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Eurobites: Ex-Ericsson Staffer in Bribery Allegations

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU roaming charges voted into dustbin of history; bailiffs knock on Vivendi's door; Vodafone creates new UK jobs.

  • A former Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) employee has alleged that, in 1999, the vendor paid 116 million Swedish kronor ($18 million) to a commercial agent, which was then used to bribe Greek officials into signing a contract with the company, reports Reuters. Liss-Olof Nenzell made the allegations on a Swedish radio station, claiming that "politicians, generals and high-ranking state officials" had been on the receiving end of the loot. Ericsson acknowledges that at the time it was using commercial agents, but stresses that it doesn't do so anymore, adding that it has "zero tolerance" of corruption.

  • The European Parliament has voted to end mobile roaming charges by Christmas 2015. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, who has been driving force behind the proposed legislation, recorded a short video to celebrate the result, which you can see here. The regulation forms part of a wider commitment to creating a single European market for telecom. (See Euronews: 'Single Market' Plan Rolls Into Action.)

  • Things are hotting up in the battle for control of SFR , the mobile operator that Vivendi is trying to offload. Bloomberg reports that Vivendi rebuffed an attempt by an activist shareholder group to gain access to documents related to the proposed sale. The group, which says it is defending minority shareholder rights, tried to send a bailiff to Vivendi's offices to seize the relevant documents. (See Euronews: Bouygues Back in SFR Frame With Higher Offer and Euronews: Iliad Shares Soar in Wake of Bouygues Pact.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is set to create 1,400 new jobs in the UK through the opening of 150 new high street stores, reports the BBC. Vodafone is still flush with cash after selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion last year.

  • European Union antitrust authorities are giving themselves more time to decide whether to give the green light to the proposed acquisition of KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN)'s E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG by Telefónica Deutschland GmbH . The deadline has been extended to May 28, also giving Telefónica more time to convince the Brussels bods that reducing the number of German mobile operators from four to three won't sound the death knell for real competition in that market. (See Euronews: EC to Thwart Telefónica's German M&A Plan?)

  • It's not just any old TV -- it's TV 2.0! At least, that's what Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) is calling its new TV offering, which employs cloud-based wizardry to offer seven-day replay on over 250 -- count 'em -- channels. Ah, how things have moved on since Bruce mumbled his way through this. Still nurthin' on, though, pretty much.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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