Light Reading

Euronews: AT&T Nixes Vodafone Bid Plan

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA roundup: Liberty Global to buy Ziggo; Ericsson, Samsung agree patents peace deal; SFR, Bouygues close to network-sharing alliance.

  • It looks like Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) will be staying in British hands, at least for the next six months, as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has announced that it has no current plans to put in a bid for the Newbury, UK-based group. As Bloomberg reports, the AT&T announcement sent Vodafone's shares southwards by 4.9% in early Monday trading, its biggest drop in five years. Meanwhile, adds Bloomberg, Vodafone has designs on ONO , the Spanish cable operator that has just announced plans for an IPO. (See Euronews: Spain's ONO Mulls IPO.)

  • Here's one US incursion into European territory that is going ahead: Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), the US cable giant, has agreed takeover terms with Dutch cable operator Ziggo B.V. . If all goes to plan, Liberty Global will pay €10.0 billion (US$13.7 billion) in stock and cash for Ziggo, giving it control of the accounts of 7 million Dutch cable subscribers. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2014. (See Liberty Global to Buy Ziggo for €10B and Euronews: Liberty Global Back in Takeover Talks With Ziggo.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has reached an agreement with Samsung Corp. on patents, which will see ongoing royalty payments from Samsung to Ericsson. The details of the deal are confidential, but Ericsson says in a statement that the initial payment in the agreement will boost Ericsson's sales and earnings in the fourth quarter of 2013 by 4.2 billion Swedish kroner ($652 million) and SEK3.3 billion ($512 million) respectively. Back in 2011 Ericsson sued Samsung over its refusal to renew a patent license agreement on so-called FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms, following two years of negotiations. (See Euronews: Ericsson Sets Lawyers on Samsung and Euronews: Ericsson Eyes Patents Cash Cow.)

  • French mobile operators SFR and Bouygues Telecom are nearing a deal on network sharing, according to this Reuters report. The pair are looking to cut costs in the face of fierce competition from cut-price upstart Free Mobile . (See Free Disrupts French Mobile Market.)

  • London's Imperial College is to collaborate with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. on a laboratory that will focus on potential "big data" applications. The Chinese giant will be forking out for new equipment, providing a research fund, and covering operational costs. (See Huawei & Imperial College to Open Big Data Lab.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/27/2014 | 1:35:41 PM
    AT&T or Huawei?
    Guess we now have "the" American company feeling like Huawei?  Ain't biz as usual that's for sure.
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/27/2014 | 1:00:32 PM
    Re: Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    Good to know, thanks.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/27/2014 | 12:55:39 PM
    Re: Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    I can tell you for a point of fact that we had to have data centers outside the US to do any significant business in Europe.  

    Our customers wanted to know that their good mail would in no case would ever enter the US.

    This was BEFORE all this latest NSA stuff.


    User Rank: Blogger
    1/27/2014 | 12:22:30 PM
    Re: Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    Yeah, sounds like something to keep an eye on.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/27/2014 | 12:20:06 PM
    Re: Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    This Wall Street Journal story seems to suggest as much:

    "At a dinner Tuesday night during the annual gathering of top executives and political figures in the Swiss resort town, Mr. Stephenson asked Commissioner Neelie Kroes how revelations of data-gathering programs conducted by the National Security Agency would affect the ability of companies like AT&T to do business in Europe, people familiar with the conversation said.

    There was no discussion of specific deals or targets for AT&T, the people said, although Mr. Stephenson did generally reiterate his interest in broadening investment and operations in Europe.

    Ms. Kroes replied that U.S. companies, like AT&T, face a trust problem in Europe as a result of the spying disclosures and it is in the interests of all the parties to get that resolved. The scandal is likely to be a live issue as the continent gears up for EU-wide European Parliament elections in May."

    My assumption is they try again in six months after the elections are done and the political posturing settles down.

    User Rank: Blogger
    1/27/2014 | 11:59:52 AM
    Re: Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    Interesting thought...
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/27/2014 | 9:13:24 AM
    Wonder if NSA story is hindering AT&T's traction?
    Bloomberg oddly omits this, but I'd seen previous reports suggesting that European regulators aren't exactly thrilled with AT&T's very close ties to the NSA, and that could hamper any Vodafone acquisition. This move appears to only delay any necessary AT&T decision six months, so perhaps AT&T hopes to try later when the outrage over the Snowden leaks has faded slightly?
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