Business Transformation

Eurobites: Nokia Gets EC Green Light for AlcaLu Acquisition

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: cable consolidation in northern Spain; Telekom Austria's new CEO; Rovi loses appeal against Virgin Media; UK broadband providers may have to fund 'final 5%'.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has received approval from the European Commission for its proposed takeover of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). After weighing up the evidence, the Commission came to the conclusion that the deal "would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties are not close competitors and since a number of strong global competitors will remain active after the transaction." (See Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent: What's Going On?)

  • Euskaltel , a cable company covering Spain's Basque region, has agreed to buy Galicia-based cable firm R Cable for €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), reports Reuters. If the deal goes through, the combined company will serve 715,000 customers in northern Spain.

  • Alejandro Plater, who was appointed COO of Telekom Austria Group in March of this year, is to assume CEO responsibilities at the carrier, effective August 1, 2015.

  • The UK Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Rovi Corp. in a long-running patent case brought against Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED). A previous High Court judgement found a patent claim by Rovi against Virgin Media to be invalid. The patent centers on the ability to pause-and-resume on-demand and live TV programs on different devices. In a prepared statement, Brigitte Trafford, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Virgin Media, said: "Virgin Media's staunch defence of Rovi's meritless patent claims has been vindicated by the High Court and the Court of Appeal. This latest victory in the Court of Appeal follows eleven defeats out of eleven for Rovi, and upholds our position regarding Rovi patents over the last seven years. One Rovi appeal remains and we are confident that it will be rejected by the court." Rovi recently lost a patent case against Netflix. (See Rovi Loses Patent Fight v. Netflix in Court.)

  • Could the British government's public spending cuts mean an unexpected bill for the nation's broadband providers? That's the possibility being raised in a Financial Times report (subscription required), which says that "government figures" are contemplating transferring the cost of providing the final 5% of nationwide broadband coverage -- estimated at £500 million (US$774.5 million) -- from the taxpayer to the broadband providers themselves. The government has committed to reaching 95% of the UK with broadband speeds of 25 Mbit/s by 2017, and providing "near universal superfast broadband" by the end of parliament in 2020, though it is still looking at the best way of achieving this.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) is contesting a fine of 143 million ($149 million) Swiss francs it looks likely to receive from the country's Competition Commission (ComCo) for alleged illegal marketing of sports content on pay-TV. According to ComCo, Swisscom abused its dominant position with regard to the broadcasting of national soccer and ice hockey events.

  • Tragic news from the UK as the Birmingham Mail reports the death of Matt Harding, a 27-year-old Virgin Media engineer who was hit by a passing car on Monday while he worked on a communications box in Wolverhampton.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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