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Eurobites: Vodafone Probes ONO on Tax 'Fraud'

Paul Rainford
10/27/2014

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Numericable numbers crunched by SFR takeover; UK safety alert over drones; Ericsson lands Telenor deal.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has begun an investigation into alleged tax fraud at ONO , the Spanish cable operator it acquired in July for €7.2 billion (US$9.1 billion), Bloomberg reports, citing El Pais. According to the newspaper, the probe is related to the possible failure by ONO to declare value-added tax on revenue of more than €200 million ($253 million) earned from the sale of international calling minutes. (See ONO Says Yes to Vodafone.)

  • Third-quarter results at French cable operator Numericable-SFR have been skewed -- in a bad way -- by costs related to its planned takeover of SFR , Vivendi 's mobile unit, Reuters reports. Numericable posted a net loss of €94.4 million ($119.5 million), compared with a profit of €12.8 million ($16.2) in the year-ago period. (See Eurobites: Numericable Wins SFR M&A Tussle.)

  • France's Altice group -- the holding company that owns Numericable -- may have its plan to acquire Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT) knocked off course by rival bids from private equity firms Apax and Bain Capital, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). Portugal Telecom is currently in the throes of merging with Brazil's Oi. (See Eurobites: Altice Eyes Portugal Telecom Bid.)

  • The UK pilots association, Balpa, has joined the drones debate, saying that strict regulations will need to be introduced before large drones are let loose in UK airspace, the BBC reports. It says the same safety standards that apply to "traditional" aircraft should be brought to bear on drones, and has called for a full public consultation to be carried out before any rules on larger drones are introduced. Concerns about drones are legion and increasingly pertinent to the communications sector: Certain rogue industry pundits believe the global network of the future will include ultra-high-altitude solar-powered drones delivering broadband to the entire planet. For more on how drones are impacting corporate strategies, particularly relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), see our dedicated drones content channel.

  • Back on terra firma, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has signed a five-year deal with Norwegian operator Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) to provide radio hardware and professional services. Part of the deal covers the supply of RBS6000 base stations, which can operate on GSM, WCDMA and LTE (otherwise known as 2G, 3G and 4G).

  • A proposed tax on data in Hungary has prompted a mass protest in which demonstrators held aloft their smartphones and threw old computer hard drives at the gates of the ruling political party, the BBC reports. The draft law would levy a tax of 150 forints ($0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it's not just the potential extra costs to them that the protesters are concerned about -- they also fear the move is further evidence of what some see as the government's anti-democratic stance.

  • German test and measurement vendor Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG reported net revenues of €1.75 billion during ($2.22 billion) the fiscal full year ending June 30, 2014, and said that it had successfully defended its market share in the wireless testing market, despite the overall decline in demand in the sector.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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