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Eurobites: VEON sees credit ratings slide as Ukraine carnage hits home

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica pals up with Pente for enterprise cloud services; Nokia goes underground in Chile; companies get ready for the hybrid working era.

  • VEON, the Amsterdam-headquartered but Russia focused telco, has had its credit ratings downgraded by agencies Fitch and S&P, reflecting "the significant deterioration of the Russian and Ukrainian operating environments in these countries," which is one way of describing the mayhem caused by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, and the resulting wide-ranging sanctions being placed on Russia. Fitch revised VEON's credit rating from "BBB- to B+ with stable outlook," while S&P's rating was adjusted from BB+ to CCC+. In a statement, Serkan Okandan, VEON's CFO, tried to accentuate the positive, saying: "While the downgrades in VEON's credit rating by the rating agencies following the downgrade of Russia's sovereign rating was to be expected, it is important to note that VEON's geographic diversification and liquidity position has allowed the Group to maintain a rating above the sovereign rating of Russia."

  • Telefónica is working with Israel's Pente Networks on a managed 5G cloud service for enterprises, with initial proof-of-concept trials with customers expected to start later this year. According to the two companies, the service will allow enterprise customers to "benefit from the advantages of the cloud to build, manage and scale on-premise applications using familiar hyperscaler services and tools."

  • Nokia has deployed an industrial-grade private LTE network for Antofagasta Minerals at one of the company's copper mines in Chile. The network will initially connect a fleet of autonomous trucks, though in time it will support a wider range of operations. Nokia's AirScale radio equipment, mobile packet core, IP/MPLS service aggregation routers and Wavence microwave transmission all form part of the deployment.

  • It seems companies are getting themselves prepared for a (one day) post-pandemic future where "hybrid working" (some days in the office, some at home) becomes the norm. So far this week we have seen…

      BT agree to lease 65,000 square feet of office space at No. 3 Capital Quarter in the center of Cardiff as its new Welsh hub. The workspace will become at least a part-time home to up to 900 employees. As is becoming de rigueur these days, a roof terrace will be provided so that employees can make the most of the fabled Welsh weather.

      Proximus reach an agreement on the redevelopment of its headquarters in Brussels, reflecting the operator's ambition to "reinvent its workspace in such a way that it enables employees to work smarter, collaborate differently and innovate, whilst also being a source of inspiration and contact between colleagues, partners and customers."

      …Qatar-based operator Ooredoo commit to flexible working as a permanent arrangement, following a trial which began last year. Employees will be given the option to work a "flexible day" and work from home two days a week. The operator is also trialing an arrangement whereby employees can choose to work from home at a location outside Qatar for up to four weeks a year.

    BT has seen the future of work – and it involves tank-tops. 
(Source: BT)
    BT has seen the future of work – and it involves tank-tops.
    (Source: BT)

  • Safaricom has signed a multi-year contract with Intelsat to expand its LTE coverage in Kenya. Intelsat will provide the operator with both cellular backhaul over satellite and enterprise connectivity services. Nearly three-quarters of all Kenyans live in rural parts of the country, so widening access to LTE will help drive digital development in such hard-to-reach areas. Earlier this month Intelsat agreed a similar deal with Orange's Mali unit.

  • Deutsche Telekom has made a donation of €1 million (US$1.09 million) to the German Red Cross's Ukraine crisis appeal. The charity is currently taking over CEO Tim Höttges' LinkedIn account for a week, where it will report on aid measures being provided for Ukraine and its refugees.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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