Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Three begins 5G fixed-wireless broadband trials in London; Nordic systems integrators merge; Spyder Facilities snapped up; UK government homes in on service providers' rip-off ruses; and more.
Well, we didn't see that one coming. Patrick Drahi, the French entrepreneur who founded Altice and went on to acquire Suddenlink and Cablevision in the US, has made his latest purchase: Sotheby's, the august auctioneers of fine art and more. According to a statement, Drahi says he does not intend to sell any shares in Altice Europe to fund the $3.7 billion deal but it appears part of his stake in Altice USA is going under the hammer -- he intends to "monetize a small position in Alice USA up to $400 million by the end of the year." Drahi maintains that the telecom and media industries will remain his main focus, stressing that he will continue to lead the Altice Europe management team as well as remaining chairman of the board of Altice USA. We wait with bated breath to see if the Altice USA stake is sold via unconventional means... (See Altice Exec & Art Collector Patrick Drahi to Buy Sotheby's for $3.7B.)
Cable industry entrepreneur Patrick Drahi bid for Sotheby's and won!
UK operator Three, which recently trumpeted the launch of its 5G rollout in 25 cities by the end of the year, has begun 5G-based fixed-wireless home broadband trials in the London boroughs of Camden and Wandsworth, with an eye to the launch of the service right across London in August. The 3,550-strong workforce at Three has also been testing out the operator's new Nokia-supplied cloud core network. (See Three Preps 5G FWA Launch in London and Eurobites: Three UK Promises 5G Services in 25 Locations This Year.)
Global investment firm Digital Colony has acquired Spyder Facilities, a UK wireless infrastructure company that claims to have its equipment in more than 5,000 locations across the UK and Ireland. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Digital Colony's UK platform already includes StrattoOpencell and iWireless Solutions.
Nordic systems integrators Tieto and EVRY, which provide services to companies in Sweden, Norway and Finland, are merging to form a digital services company that will have annual revenues of €3 billion ($3.35 billion) and 24,000 staff. In effect, Tieto is acquiring EVRY in a cash and stock deal valued at €1.3 billion ($1.45 billion). The name of the new entity? TietoEVRY. Inspired! For more, see this Reuters report.
The UK government is to consult on giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) new powers to bypass the courts and decide for itself whether consumers -- mobile and broadband subscribers among them -- are being subject to unfair terms and conditions, hard-to-exit contracts or other rip-off ruses. This is just the latest in a series of rumblings about how consumers are being exploited for their loyalty.
Russian operator MegaFon has announced the resignation of its director for IR and M&A, Dmitry Kononov. Kononov, who first joined MegaFon in 2000, is moving on to a strategic role within the USM Holdings Group. MegaFon's M&A business development will be overseen by Alexander Sobolev, MegaFon's chief strategy officer.
Conker, the splendidly named UK producer of "rugged" tablets and other mobile devices, has hooked up with ATP Enable to help organizations that use Conker's devices to better control and monitor -- at a network level -- how data is being accessed and used by their employees.