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Euronews: Sept. 7

French fears, Spanish-funded fiber, Scotched rumors, and job creation feature in today's roundup of European telecom news nuggets.

  • A French union is getting les jitters about the potential merger of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Orange (NYSE: FTE) after Deutsche Bank AG , already a shareholder in the German incumbent carrier, raised its stake in the French national operator to more than 5 percent, reports Reuters. The French operator was quick to dismiss any merger speculation, though. European carrier consolidation is certainly expected by the market, but the marriage of two such significant regional powerhouses looks far less likely than mergers involving smaller national players and/or second- and third-tier operators. And anyone who remembers the Global One joint venture might wonder whether a combination of France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom would ever work. (See Eurosqueeze?)

  • Spanish giant Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) is set to invest up to US$2.5 billion in an FTTH network in Chile that will pass 700,000 homes and businesses within four years, according to a report from Telesema. Chile has a population of about 17 million, 4.65 million households, and a current broadband penetration rate of around 11.5 percent, according to a recent Pyramid Research Country Intelligence Report. Telefónica has been busy investing in its significant Latin American stronghold of late. (See Viva La Vivo Deal.)

  • After rumors to the contrary on Monday -- see Euronews: Sept. 6 -- it seems Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) is unlikely to bid for London-based Cable & Wireless Worldwide plc (London: CW), according to a Reuters report. Analysts Arthur Pineda and Ravi Sarathy said SingTel had made it clear in a meeting that it wanted to focus on acquisitions in the Asia/Pacific region.

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has been hiring hundreds of new staff in Hungary, where it plans to ramp up its manufacturing facilities, reports Realdeal.hu.

  • Over in skulduggery corner, the Deutsche Telekom spying trial -- in which the company’s former head of security, Klaus Trzeschan, has been accused of illegally collecting the phone records of about 60 prominent people -- has taken a dramatic turn, with Trzeschan admitting it had all been “a big mistake” and incriminating DT’s then-boss Kai-Uwe Ricke, according to English-language news Website The Local. (See Spying Scandal Rocks Deutsche Telekom.)

  • UK quango, the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), is urging the British government to relax the planning laws relating to mobile phone masts so that better coverage can be achieved in the countryside for small businesses, reports The Daily Telegraph. Health scares and concerns about the masts’ visual impact in picturesque areas have led to huge swathes of the countryside being without coverage, says the CRC.

    In other European news:

    — Paul Rainford, freelance editor, special to Light Reading

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