Alcatel-Lucent has extended the credit facility announced in December to "around €2 billion" (US$2.7 billion) from €1.615 billion ($2.18 billion) and has negotiated improved terms and conditions. The news, which reflects growing confidence in the vendor's future, gave AlcaLu's stock a near 4 percent boost to €1.26 in morning trading on the Paris exchange Thursday morning. The share price has risen by more than 21 percent this year, though the company still carries a total market valuation of just €2.94 billion ($3.98 billion). (See Alcatel-Lucent Secures €1.6B Lifeline.)
Ericsson reported a mixed set of financials for 2012's fourth quarter and full year. Its revenues for the final three months of last year were up 5 percent year-on-year and up 23 percent sequentially to 66.9 billion Swedish kronor ($10.52 billion) but it reported a net loss of SEK6.3 billion ($991 million) because of a major writedown in the value of its wireless chip venture ST-Ericsson. Full-year sales showed little change from 2011 at SEK227.8 billion ($35.84 billion), but its full-year net profit dipped by more than half to SEK5.9 billion ($927 million), with ST-Ericsson to blame yet again. But there are signs that the vendor's Networks division should help deliver improving profitability as 2013 progresses.
Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's feisty vice president for the Digital Agenda, has been outlining her ten-point plan for the future of broadband and broadband-related business in Europe. The To Do list reads roughly as follows: i) stimulate investment through the right regulatory framework; ii) deliver the radio spectrum policy program; iii) implement a "wireless action plan" in the spring; iv) get the EU member states to support broadband rollout; v) cut the cost of civil engineering associated with broadband rollout; vi) persuade member states to support broadband with state aid where the market can't deliver; vii) boost trust in broadband services through added transparency in areas like download speeds; viii) set out guidance on net neutrality; ix) publish a new recommendation on universal service; x) continue a "host of actions" to stimulate demand for broadband. (That last one sounds like a bit of a cheat, to be honest.) "I'm in a fighting mood, and Europe can't wait," adds Kroes. Be afraid. (See Euronews: Kroes Plan Is Krazy, Say Telcos, Euronews: Steely Neelie's Copper Clampdown and Steely Neelie's FTTX Face Off.)
Things are looking sunny at U.K. satellite broadcaster and broadband service provider BSkyB Ltd., which reported half-year operating profits up 7 percent year-on-year at £679 million ($1.07 billion). CEO Jeremy Darroch is still hopeful of further gains in telephony and broadband, however: "With 33 percent triple-play penetration, we see good headroom for further growth with over six million TV customers yet to switch their communications services to Sky," he said in a statement.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading
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