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Business Transformation

Eurobites: Orange Expects BT M&A Decision by Christmas

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU probe into Orange's Jazztel bid; 4G in Kenya; Belgacom makes a difference in Brussels.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) CEO Stephane Richard expects to know by this Christmas whether BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is going to make a bid for EE , the mobile operator joint venture owned by Orange and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), reports Reuters. The UK mobile market looks like it is set for a time of real upheaval, with news emerging in the last couple of weeks that BT was in talks with both EE and Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2 UK) about a possible acquisition of one or the other, while Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY), which operates the Three UK brand in the UK, was also preparing bids for its two mobile rivals. There was also the rumor, since denied by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), that it was interested in acquiring Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) (See Eurobites: BT in Talks to Buy O2, Why BT + EE Makes More Sense and Could Li Ka-Shing Crash BT's M&A Party?)

  • Meanwhile, on the Spanish front, Orange is remaining positive about its attempted acquisition of broadband provider Jazztel plc , a deal that has become the subject on an in-depth investigation by the European Commission. In a statement regarding the EC probe, the company said: "The Orange Group continues proceedings for the acquisition of Jazztel and reaffirms its confidence in the favourable outcome of this deal, which aims to give rise to the market's second-ranked fixed broadband operator and one of the most dynamic players in the Spanish mobile market."

  • A couple of Euro-wins for optical infrastructure vendor Coriant to note: Ireland's ESB Telecoms has launched a new high-capacity DWDM network using Coriant's hiT 7300 Multi-Haul Transport offering, while in Italy Clouditalia has used the same solution to expand its nationwide network.

  • Kenya has received its first dose of 4G, courtesy of Vodafone-owned Safaricom Ltd. , reports Reuters. Kenya has a population of 40 million, and its government sees faster mobile broadband as key to the country's economic growth.

  • BT appears to be increasingly seeing itself first and foremost as a pay-TV operator, and today it claims that it has become the UK's first TV platform to offer "buy to keep" movies on multiple devices in addition to the set-top box. Now, movies purchased on a BT TV YouView or Vision+ set-top box are automatically available to watch on smartphones, tablets and PCs too. BT has also launched its TV Everywhere service, allowing customers to watch its linear channels on a range of devices.

  • Spain's Fon has brought its pioneering "crowdsourced" WiFi model to Greece, with national operator OTE S.A. Customers of OTE will now be able to gain access to shared WiFi connections of other OTE customers in Greece, provided they share a portion of their own bandwidth at home.

  • Monitise plc , a provider of mobile money platforms, has formed a seven-year partnership with the UK's Virgin Money bank. Only last week Monitise announced similar deals with Santander, MasterCard, Telefónica and IBM.

  • And finally, let's hear it for Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG): In an age when the corporate world is apt to launch social-media-led charity campaigns that maybe don't count for much, the Belgian carrier's mobile division, Proximus, has made one of its unused office buildings available as a shelter for the homeless from today right through to the end of March. That will be of more use to vulnerable people during the Brussels winter than a tweet of a T-shirt.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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