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Eurobites: Altice Calms Investors' Nerves

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: FTTH tie-up in Ireland; UK government creates buzz around Budget measures; du works on "loyalty platform."

  • French cable and telecoms giant Altice calmed investor nerves Monday morning with a denial that it plans to sell shares in order to reduce its massive US$55 billion-plus debt pile, but will instead sell non-core assets in Europe and "not pursue any new meaningful M&A opportunities." The operator, which noted that its statement was in response to "to recent market speculation and misinformation," has had a torrid few weeks following poor results and the ousting of CEO Michel Combes. But its statement this morning, which clarified its financial position and plans, appears to have had the desired effect, as the company's share price gained 8.5% to hit €8.78 on the Amsterdam exchange by lunchtime in continental Europe. It still has a lot of repair work to do, though, as the stock has lost more than half of its value since the start of this year. (See Altice Moves to Stem Investor Panic and Eurobites: Drahi Retakes Control at Altice as Combes Steps Down.)

  • SIRO, the FTTH joint venture between Vodafone Ireland and state-owned utility firm ESB Telecoms , has formed a partnership with Sky Ireland to deliver high-speed broadband services to consumers starting in 2018, the two companies have announced. Sky Ireland already has about 180,000 broadband customers and will use SIRO's network, which is being rolled out in 50 towns across Ireland, to expand its fixed broadband services offer. SIRO also recently announced a €25 million (US$29.5 million) deal to source ultra-broadband networking equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. for its deployments -- see this announcement for more details.

  • The UK government is poised to announce a raft of measures in this week's Budget intended to help place the country at the forefront of R&D into driverless cars, AI and 5G. As City AM reports, the measures, which include regulatory changes to make it possible to test driverless cars on the UK's public roads without a human operator, will be announced in this week's budget. In terms of funding for related areas, it is believed £75 million ($99 million) has been earmarked for AI research, £400 million ($529 million) set aside creating more electric car charge points and £160 million ($160 million) for 5G development. (See All Eyes on Hammond's Budget as AI, Connected Cars Set for Boost.)

  • Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) is collaborating with Dubai-based Viafone Technologies on the development of a "loyalty platform," which it hopes will improve customer retention tenfold. The collaboration forms part of the Dubai Future Accelerators startup program.

  • A new report from BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Accenture reaches the perhaps not-that-surprising conclusion that improving the coming generation's technology skills can have a highly beneficial effect on economic growth and social mobility, creating a "tech literacy wage premium" of £10,000 ($13,200) per individual per year. However, the report warns that investment must be made in improving the skills of existing employees to make sure they are not left behind in the rush to automation.

  • Spotify, the Sweden-based music streaming service, is to open a new, larger London office that will have a stronger focus on R&D than its current base. It is thought that the company also plans to double its UK workforce over the next two years. For more details, see this story on our sister site, TechX365.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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