Eurobites: Virgin Cuts Jobs in Wake of Fiber Rollout Ructions

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia Technologies appoints new boss; Ukraine hit by fresh cyber attack; Fox/Sky latest; happy birthday 999.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is to cut around 200 jobs, most of them based at its London headquarters, the Daily Telegraph reports. The cuts come in the wake of an internal inquiry into how the company's management had misrepresented progress made on Project Lightning, its fiber rollout program, presenting an exaggerated picture to investors of what had actually been accomplished in terms of network buildout. (See Eurobites: Clouds Descend on Project Lightning.)

  • Nokia Technologies, the unit of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) that develops and licenses technology for use in digital healthcare and media products, has appointed Gregory Lee as its new president. Lee comes to Nokia from Samsung Electronics, where he spent 13 years as president and CEO of the company's North American unit. He will be based in California, reporting to Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri.

  • Yet another major cyber attack made its presence felt on Thursday, this one hitting Ukrenergo, the Ukrainian state power distribution company. As Reuters reports, the virus was slightly different to the one that did the rounds earlier in the week, and more like the WannaCry ransomware-based assault that knocked out the UK's National Health Service and plenty more besides in May. (See Global Ransomware Attack Strikes 70K Systems (& Counting) and Eurobites: Grow Some Cyberballs, UK Industry Warned.)

  • The proposed takeover of UK pay-TV giant Sky by 21st Century Fox is still in doubt following the Secretary of State's decision to refer the deal to a "Phase 2" investigation on the grounds of media plurality (or the lack of it, should the deal go through). Karen Bradley's decision was based on a recommendation by regulator Ofcom , which found that the proposed deal did indeed raise "public interest concerns relating to media plurality." Surprisingly, perhaps, given recent allegations of widespread sexual and racial harassment at Fox News, Ofcom also concluded that Sky would be a "fit and proper" holder of broadcast licenses even if it were 100% owned and controlled by Fox and, ultimately, the (Rupert) Murdoch Family Trust.

  • Following tales of staff being paid late and suppliers not being paid at all at VCL, the UK-based manufacturing arm of "luxury" mobile phone brand Vertu , the Daily Telegraph reports that the owner of the brand has put VCL into administration -- a form of bankruptcy-type protection for insolvent companies -- in a bid to wipe out debt. Murat Hakan Uzan, the Turkish owner of Vertu, is hoping to secure approval from creditors at the High Court to transfer assets to a new company that will not be weighed down with unpaid bills totaling tens of millions of pounds.

  • Telia , which claims to have been the first operator in the world to launch a cloud-based connected car service (in Sweden in November 2016), has launched its Telia Sense service in Denmark. According to Telia, the service will allow 1.8 million Danish car owners to connect any car made since 2001 to the Internet.

  • And finally: Let's hear it for the UK's 999 emergency phone service, which celebrates its 80th birthday today. According to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), it's the world's oldest such emergency service, and came into being following a fire at a London doctor's surgery in November 1935 that claimed the lives of five women. Apparently, the committee charged with setting up the service initially considered using the number combination 707 -- which corresponded to the letters SOS on the telephone dial -- and 333, but both of these had to be rejected for technical reasons. The archives also reveal that one of the first "emergency" calls that shouldn't have been made came from a man complaining about somebody playing the bagpipes outside his house. A straightforward citizen's arrest would probably have been more appropriate.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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