Eurobites: TIM's Management Turmoil Continues

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Salt demos 5G with Nokia; Deutsche Telekom joins industrial IoT group; KPN invests in healthcare tech.

  • Turmoil at Telecom Italia (TIM) continues with reports that the operator's deputy chairman, Giuseppe Recchi, has "given up operational powers," according to Reuters. Though he may stay on the board, this still represents the latest episode of management disruption at TIM since French media conglomerate Vivendi effectively took control of the operator. Earlier this week CEO Amos Genish, who only took up the role in September, was forced to deny rumors that he was considering leaving the group, telling an Italian newspaper that he was "fully committed" to the company. (See Vivendi Man Genish Formally Named Telecom Italia CEO and Telecom Italia Drama: What Is Vivendi Up To?)

  • A monster merger between France's Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) appears firmly off the agenda following reports the two companies held talks about a tie-up last year. Addressing reporters at a press briefing in London yesterday, Gervais Pellissier, Orange's deputy CEO, said any appetite for major M&A activity had faded. "Nobody has proven that big consolidation is value creating," he said. "The last [to try] was Telefónica with O2 and it has resold a huge part of the footprint." Pellissier also said that any deal would inevitably have meant a Deutsche Telekom takeover of Orange, due to the difference in market capitalization between the two operators. Deutsche Telekom's is worth about €70 billion ($87.1 billion) while Orange is valued at just €40 billion ($49.8 billion). "That would not please many people in France," he said, referring to the political opposition a takeover would encounter. The French government owns about 15% of Orange, while 32% of Deutsche Telekom remains in state hands.

  • Swiss mobile operator Salt SA joined forces with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) this week to demonstrate the potential of 5G technology at its headquarters in Renens. Data download speeds of 4.5 Gbit/s were recorded, using the 3.5GHz band, and virtual reality and 360-degree video applications were used to highlight low latency (in the 1 millisecond range).

  • On a different front, Nokia has been beefing up its cloud credentials with the opening of a "cloud collaboration hub" in Singapore. And it's got two more planned -- one in Irving, Texas and another in the UK city of Reading. The hubs are described rather worryingly as "execution centers," but sources tell us that this has more to do with executing cloud and automation strategies rather than anything overtly sinister.

  • Deutsche Telekom has joined the Industrial Internet Consortium, a group dedicated, as its name suggests, to accelerating the adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Other members of the consortium include Ericsson, Huawei, IBM and ZTE.

  • KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN)'s venture capital arm, KPN Ventures, is one of six organizations backing the Health Innovation Fund III, which has been set up to support healthcare startups. The fund plans to invest €15 million (US$18.7 million) in total spread between ten and 15 companies during the next few years.

  • Citizens Advice, the UK consumer rights organization, is calling for a "telecoms consumer advocate" to help push for better broadband service, the BBC reports. According to a study carried out by Citizens Advice, six out of ten broadband customers in the UK had to put up with slow service or lost their connection completely last year.

  • Sky , which this week signaled the demise of its dish with a plan to make all its channels available online (though via its set-top box), has extended its movie content deal with Warner Bros. (See Eurobites: Sky Hastens Death of the Dish.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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