Eurobites: Former France Telecom Execs to Stand Trial Over Suicides

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Comcast's Sky bid gets the official EU nod; Virgin bills direct for Netflix; Telia denies break-up fee; Com Hem claims speed record.

  • The former CEO of the company now known as Orange (NYSE: FTE), France Telecom, is to stand trial along with six other former FT managers over a series of suicides among FT employees in the late 2000s. As the BBC reports, Didier Lombard and his then colleagues deny that restructuring measures undertaken shortly after the privatization of the former state-run company contributed to the at least 19 suicides committed by FT employees from 2008. If found guilty the defendants could face two years in prison. (See France Telecom Under Fire.)

  • As anticipated by Reuters last week, the European Commission has officially cleared Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s proposed acquisition of Sky, saying that it would "raise no competition concerns." The Commission found that the proposed transaction would lead to only a limited increase in Sky 's existing share of the markets for the acquisition of TV content, as well as in the market for the wholesale supply of TV channels in the affected EU member states. (See Why Sky's the Limit for Comcast.)

  • Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has done a deal with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) that allows Virgin's customers who opt for Netflix as part of their TV package to pay for the streaming service through their Virgin bill. Virgin claims it was the first pay-TV provider to integrate Netflix onto its platform, in 2013.

  • Sweden's Telia is denying a report in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet that it has signed a 1 billion Swedish kronor (US$113 million) break-up fee with Stockholm-based Bonnier Broadcasting, with whom Telia has already been in takeover talks.

  • Another Swedish company, cable operator Com Hem AB , is hoping to make it into the Guinness World Records with what it claims is the fastest Internet connection "to a larger group of people" ever measured. The 1.6Tbit/s connection, with a direct link to Com Hem's backbone, was set up between Stockholm and Jönköping (300km away) for the DreamHack Summer event over the weekend, using DWDM technology.

  • Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN)'s Ieva Martinkenaite has been appointed as one of 52 experts on the European Commission's new High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLG). Her role will be to help implement a Europe-wide strategy on AI. Other companies already with representation in the group include Orange, Nokia Bell Labs and Google.

    Telenor's Ieva Martinkenaite: Helping the EU with their AI
    Telenor's Ieva Martinkenaite: Helping the EU with their AI

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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