Eurobites: Saudis take a tenth of Telefónica

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cellnex disposes of French towers; it's game on for 5G SA network slicing; Arm sets IPO share price range.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

September 6, 2023

4 Min Read
Eurobites: Saudis take a tenth of Telefónica

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cellnex disposes of French towers; it's game on for 5G SA network slicing; Arm sets IPO share price range.

  • Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has acquired a 9.9% stake in Spanish giant Telefónica for 8.5 billion Saudi riyal (US$2.3 billion), with STC Chairman Mohammed K. A. Al Faisal claiming in a statement that the two companies "share many similarities." CEO Olayan Alwetaid added: "We do not intend to acquire control or a majority stake but rather we see this as a compelling investment opportunity to use our strong balance sheet whilst maintaining our dividend policy." Writing on LinkedIn, Omdia analyst James Crawshaw expressed doubts about the deal: "In my opinion, if STC is looking for ideas about how to grow their business they would have been better off giving a fraction of this money to consultants and investing the rest of the money in tech startups (100% controlled). But STC is 64% owned by the state and they probably look at things differently to me."

    Figure 1:

    (Source: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo)

    (Source: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo)

    • Spanish towerco Cellnex is to dispose of 2,353 sites in France to Phoenix Tower International (PTI) and to a joint venture of PTI and Bouygues Telecom as part of an agreement reached last year. Cellnex will pocket €631 million ($678 million) from the deal, using the proceeds to reduce its debt. An additional 870 or so other sites are expected to be transferred by the end of the year. Cellnex currently manages around 30,000 tower sites in France for Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR.

    • Vodafone and Ericsson have carried out a live network trial that they say shows the potential of 5G network slicing for gamers. Guinea-pig gamers at Coventry University in the UK were asked to play cloud-based games on smartphones under two connectivity scenarios, one using the public network and the other using an isolated 5G standalone network slice that had been optimized for cloud gaming. Once it was game over, 88% of participants on the 5G SA slice rated their satisfaction above 8/10, compared with only 13% of those on the creaky old public network.

    • Arm, the UK-based but Japanese-owned chip design company, has set the price range for its forthcoming IPO on the Nasdaq exchange at between $47 and $51 per share. As there are 95,500,000 shares up for grabs, this effectively values Arm at between $50 billion and $54 billion, falling short of what owner SoftBank had been hoping for. According to the BBC, Arm has already lined up some of the biggest names in tech – Apple and Nvidia amongst them – as buyers of the shares. (See Arm may struggle to justify a $60B valuation.)

    • Nokia has landed an XGS-PON gig with Mediacom, one of the largest cable companies in the US. With the help of some state and federal funding, Mediacom will deploy Nokia's optical line terminals to help it reach rural, underserved communities with a multi-gigabit broadband service.

    • Telesign, the US subsidiary of Belgian operator Proximus, has named Christophe Van de Weyer as its new CEO. He replaces Joe Burton, who has decided to leave the company. Van de Weyer joined Proximus 2020 after a career of almost 20 years at Bain & Company. He will be responsible for leading Telesign's operations in the digital identity sphere.

    • EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager – who has been something of a thorn in the side of Big Tech in recent times – is to step aside from European Commission business for an unspecified period as she seeks to land a senior role at the European Investment Bank. Relax everyone… (See Google loses bid to cancel monster EU fine and EU's Vestager goes Big Tech bashing (again).)

      — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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