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Business Transformation

Eurobites: Altice Can't Have All of SFR

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT rivals seeks pensions advice; Orange gets approval for bank buy; Nokia looks to improve basestation efficiency with Eta acquisition.

  • Altice , the acquisition-hungry French group, has been thwarted in its ambition to buy the 22% of SFR it doesn't already own, reports Bloomberg, following the intervention of the country's financial regulator. Altice's €2.4 billion (US$2.6 billion) bid was declared non-compliant, though no full explanation of the decision was given. Media conglomerate Vivendi sold SFR to Altice in 2014, choosing its bid over that of Bouygues Telecom . (See Eurobites: Numericable Wins SFR M&A Tussle and What's It All About, Altice?)

  • Sky , Vodafone UK and TalkTalk have enlisted the help of Mercer, the firm which used to advise BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) on its pension scheme, in trying to persuade UK regulator Ofcom that the fact that BT has a £9.9 billion ($12.6 billion) pension deficit does not mean that it can't be split up from its Openreach network access unit. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), Mercer has produced a report for the trio of BT rivals, which has been submitted to Ofcom as the deadline for responses to the regulator's Digital Communications Review approached. Ofcom has recommended that Openreach be made into a separate company that is still fully incorporated in BT, but this is not enough for Sky and friends. (See BT's Break-Up Could Trigger Euro Panic, BT Clings On to Openreach – Just and BT, Ofcom & the Battle of Britain.)

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has received regulatory approval both in France and at EU level for its acquisition of 65% of Groupama Banque, which will be renamed Orange Bank in January. The operator hopes to attract more than 2 million French customers to Orange Bank, the creation of which forms part of its strategy of diversification into mobile financial services. (See Eurobites: Orange Seals Bank Acquisition Deal and Orange Claims Customer Interest in Bank Move.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is hoping to improve the power efficiency of its basestations with the acquisition of Eta Devices, a US startup specializing in power amplifier efficiency offerings for basestations, access points and devices. According to Nokia, Eta's latest amplifier acts like an automatic gearbox, adjusting energy usage by constantly providing just the right amount of power required for a radio signal.

  • Eyestrain alert! Sky, the UK-based pay-TV giant, is adding a split-screen viewing feature to its top-end Sky Q set-top box, allowing, for example, subscribers to watch two live streams side by side, or catch up on highlights of soccer games already played while watching one that is being screened live.

  • BT has landed a cloud-based IT services contract with Randstad Group, an HR services firm. The UK incumbent will centralize Randstad's network infrastructure, using its IP Connect, Cloud Connect and Internet Connect services. BT One Cloud will be used to deliver cloud-based voice services to Randstad's 33,000 employees worldwide.

  • A study commissioned by Which?, the UK consumer organization, has found that 4G coverage in Britain is something of a mixed bag, with Londoners being able to access a 4G signal 69.7% of the time but those living in Wales having to put up with a paltry 35.4% accessibility score. However, while London may be the best area for connecting to 4G, it labors under the lowest average download speeds of all the regions reviewed in the report. For the full findings of the study, which was carried out by OpenSignal, click here.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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