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Eurobites: DT to Buy Liberty Global's Austrian Unit in €1.9B Deal

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson raises $272 million for 5G research; KPN rolls out LTE-M; O2 UK authenticates with Danal.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s Austrian subsidiary, T-Mobile Austria , is to acquire UPC Austria, currently part of the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) cable empire, in a deal that values the cable operator at €1.9 billion (US$2.25 million). The merger will combine T-Mobile's nationwide 4G network with Austria's leading cable operator to create a quad-play provider that ticks all the "convergence" boxes. UPC Austria has annual revenues of about $342 million and 654,000 customers, of which 513,000 take a broadband service, 450,000 a voice service and 468,000 a video service. Some commentators believe the deal in Austria is part of a Liberty Global restructuring process that will ultimately enable it to open talks again with Vodafone about a potential mega-merger. The deal is Deutsche Telekom's second M&A announcement in a week, following the merger between T-Mobile Netherlands and rival Tele2 Netherlands. (See Eurobites: Liberty Global Considers Sale of Swiss, Austrian Units and T-Mobile Netherlands to Merge With Tele2.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has raised a net $272 million in loans from Nordic Investment Bank and AB Svensk Exportkredit to help fund its 5G R&D program, the Swedish vendor announced Friday morning. Everyone knows that Ericsson is having an unusually tough time financially, but is it not a little concerning that the company claiming 5G leadership, and which is still generating billions of dollars per quarter in revenues, cannot adequately fund its own primary R&D from its cashflow? Just a thought. Ericsson's share price is down 1.6% to SEK 55.15 on the Stockholm exchange Friday morning. (See Ericsson Sees Networks Progress Despite Mounting Losses.)

  • Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) has begun rolling out LTE-M technology in the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam to power its Internet of Things network. LTE-M is a low-power, wide-area network technology based on 4G and is supported by a number of major operators, including AT&T, Orange, Telefonica and Verizon. KPN says LTE-M is complementary to its existing nationwide IoT networks, such as LoRa.

  • Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) has gone with San Jose-based Danal for its mobile identity and authentication software needs. Danal will manage the service from its EU-based regional office.

  • Swedish virtual reality specialist Cortopia has raised an addition $2.48 million in its latest funding round, in combination with investment partner Init Invest. Cortopia scored a hit with its first VR-based game, Wands, and with the new money behind it Cortopia hopes to further develop Wands as well as launch other games.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is under renewed threat of being broken up by the UK government as doubts persist over its ability to deliver nationwide high-speed broadband quickly enough, according to a Daily Telegraph report. Earlier this year BT agreed to "legally separate" its Openreach infrastructure business, giving it its own board, strategy, budget and branding, though many shareholders had feared more stringent regulation. And last week BT was dealt a blow when the government rejected its offer to improve rural broadband with a £600 million (US$787 million) investment and instead insisted that a minimum download speed of 10 Mbit/s becomes a legal requirement under the terms of a so-called Universal Service Obligation (USO). (See BT Agrees to Openreach Split and Eurobites: BT's Rural Broadband Offer Spurned.)

    This is the final Eurobites of 2017. Normal service will be resumed on January 2. In the meantime… Happy Christmas!

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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