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Euronews: AT&T Seeks European M&A

Paul Rainford

AT&T Inc., Nokia Corp. and France Télécom – Orange start the ball rolling in today's roundup of EMEA headlines.

  • AT&T is looking to acquire a European mobile operator to reduce its reliance on its domestic market, according to this Wall Street Journal story, which cited Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV and the U.K.'s largest mobile operator, Everything Everywhere Ltd. (EE), as potential targets.
  • Nokia is to transfer up to 820 IT staff to outsourcing partners HCL Technologies Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and cut up to 300 IT jobs as part of the restructuring of its back office operations, the Finnish mobile giant announced Thursday morning. Most of the staff affected are based in Finland. The move is part of the companywide revamp announced in June 2012. (See Nokia Cuts 10,000 Jobs, Restructures.)
  • France Télécom – Orange is looking to break into new markets with the launch of a subsidiary, Orange Horizons, which, according to a statement from the operator, will "seek out new business opportunities in countries where the Group is not already present as a mass-market telecommunications provider." The first such venture sees the company launching two websites in South Africa, the first to sell "telecom-related devices" (phones, possibly?) and the second providing online content geared to the local market.
  • Middle East powerhouse Etisalat has submitted a "preliminary expression of interest" to buy Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom. Etisalat says the move is "consistent with our stated strategy of selective expansion in our core MENA markets and would complement our existing operations in Sub-Saharan Africa."
  • Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Maroc Telecom is set to invest €900 million (US$1.2 billion) over two years in an upgrade of its network infrastructure. (See Pyramid: Three's a Crowd in Morocco.)
  • Swedish operator Tele2 could face a carve-up of its Russian business, Reuters reports, citing Russia's Vedomosti newspaper. The report, which claimed that Garsdale (an investment vehicle owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov) was proposing to buy Tele2's assets and divide them up between MegaFon, VimpelCom Ltd. and Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS), has been dismissed by Garsdale's CEO as "inaccurate."
  • In a week that has seen the collapse of three major U.K. retail chains, namely HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops, it seems sales of tablets are providing one of the few bright spots in what is a very gloomy picture on Britain's high streets. Dixons, which owns electrical retailer Currys and PC World, reported "phenomenal" sales of the go-to gadgets, though the low margins on them didn't do a lot for its bottom line. — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading
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