…And it's Vodafone versus Liberty Global. Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Reding's data protection compact; Irish mobile deal could face objections; UK consumers spend less on telecom.
Europe's dwindling collection of independent cable assets is going to be increasingly fought over by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), according to a Bloomberg report. On Monday it was announced that Liberty had agreed takeover terms with Dutch cable operator Ziggo B.V. , and it was also revealed that Vodafone -- which in October acquired Kabel Deutschland -- had designs on ONO , a Spanish cable company. (See Euronews: AT&T Nixes Vodafone Bid Plan , Liberty Global to Buy Ziggo for €10B, and Euronews: Spain's ONO Mulls IPO.)
That's not the only M&A speculation involving Vodafone. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) may have stepped back from any bid activity for now, but that doesn't mean there aren't other interested parties. The latest gossip, as reported by the London Evening Standard is that Japan's SoftBank Corp. and China Mobile Communications Corp. are interested in taking a meaningful stake in Vodafone.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding takes center stage in Brussels today to set out her eight principles for a post-Prism "data protection compact for Europe." Among the must-haves are: data protection reform on the EU statute book; data collection that is targeted and limited to what is "proportionate to the objectives that have been set"; and a more sparing use of national security as the excuse for data-snooping. (See Euronews: Prism Prompts EU Data Rethink and Prism in a Big Data World.)
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY) could face regulatory objections to the planned takeover of Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s O2 Ireland unit by its 3 Ireland subsidiary, according to a Reuters report. The European Commission is due to send a statement to Hutchison this week following an investigation into the bid by its competition authority.
There are some worrying tidbits for operators in a new report by UK regulator Ofcom . The report, "Cost and Value of Communications Services in the UK," found that the average monthly average UK spend on mobile services declined by 23% in real terms between 2003 and 2012 (from £24.99 to £19.13 -- roughly US$41 to $31), while the equivalent sum for a fixed broadband connection decreased by 48% over more or less the same period. On a brighter note for the industry, the average UK residential fixed-line broadband speed has increased from 3.6 Mbit/s in November 2008 to 14.7 Mbit/s in May 2013.
Middle East operator Zain Group is treading water, profits-wise, its fourth-quarter earnings inching up to 51 million Kuwaiti dinars ($180.6 million) from 50.5 million dinars ($178.7 million) a year earlier, reports Reuters. Its customer base, however, rose 8% to 46.1 million over the same period.
GC Europe, a Belgium-based manufacturer of dental care products, has chosen Interoute Communications Ltd. 's Virtual Data Centre cloud storage offering to help host and transfer large data files across its global corporate network.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading