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Eurobites: S&P Puts Vodafone on Creditwatch

Paul Rainford
7/17/2019

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Tele2's earnings up 3% in Q2; Openet goes cloud-native for 5G; Inmarsat takeover comes under scrutiny.

  • Influential credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's has put Vodafone's debt rating on its Creditwatch list with "negative implications." The agency believes that Vodafone's planned €18.4 billion (US$20.6 billion) acquisition of Liberty Global's assets in Germany and Eastern Europe will close in the next few months and that this, and other financial pressures such as 5G license costs, will weigh heavy on its finances. The move shaved 1.3% off Vodafone's stock in Thursday morning trading on the London stock exchange, leaving it at 126.4 pence. For more on this, see this story on our sister site, Telecoms.com. (See Vodafone CEO Read Desperately Needs Liberty Deal.)

  • Sweden's Tele2 saw underlying second-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) grow 3% year-on-year to 2.2 billion Swedish kronor (US$234 million), despite revenue falling by 2% over the same period to SEK6.8 billion ($725 million). Net profit was dented by a capital gain from the sale of its Kazakhstan unit and a goodwill impairment in Estonia. The integration of Com Hem, the cable operator it bought in 2018, continues apace, with Tele2 claiming that to date it has realized an additional SEK100 million ($10.6 million) in "synergies" as a result of the deal. (See Sweden's Tele2 to Swallow Com Hem in $3.3B Deal.)

  • Dublin-based BSS vendor Openet has launched what it describes as a new cloud-native 5G monetization solution, the Evolved Charging Suite (ECS). Openet ECS provides 5G CHF (Charging Function) and CCS (Convergent Charging System) capability and is intended to support existing 2/3/4G mobility, fixed services as well as new 5G services.

  • Mobile operator Three UK and Nokia have launched what they claim is "the world's first 5G-ready fully integrated cloud core network" in preparation for Three's imminent foray into 5G. So far, Three has tested its new core network with some of its employees and has now started to migrate 4G customer traffic onto the new core, a process that will continue throughout 2019. The new network will be managed from Three's 20 new data centers across the UK. Other vendors playing a part in the project include Affirmed Networks, Mavenir, EXFO, Mycom and BMC. (See Three UK Eyes Standalone 5G for Coverage Boost.)

  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is to take a closer look at the proposed $3.4 billion takeover of satellite company Inmarsat by Connect Bidco, a private equity group that includes Warburg Pincus, Apax Partners and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. As the Daily Telegraph reports (paywall applies), it is thought the deal could raise public interest concerns. (See Eurobites: Inmarsat Agrees to $3.4B Takeover Bid.)

  • KPN Ventures, the investment arm of Dutch incumbent telco KPN, has joined the Cambridge, UK-based investment fund IQ Capital. The $175 million fund focuses on pumping money into UK technology companies that are seen as having unique expertise, strong intellectual property and based within the Cambridge tech "ecosystem." Data analytics, fintech, human-machine interface, IoT, cybersecurity and high-performance engineering are its six key areas of interest.

  • The European Commission has approved the €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) sale of Finnish mobile operator DNA to Norway's Telenor, YLE reports. Under the terms of the deal, Telenor will buy 54% of DNA shares from Finda Telecoms and PHP Holding. And in related news, Broadband TV News reports that DNA is to sell its DTT pay-TV business to Digita for an undisclosed price.

  • BSS provider Nexign has agreed a value-added reseller deal with Cairo-based systems integrator Giza Systems. The agreement covers East and North Africa.

  • Telia Company has come up with what it says is a solution to the so-called "Wangiri" phone scams that seek to entice people into calling back on fabulously expensive long-distance lines, the proceeds of which go in part to the scammer. Factoid: "Wangiri" is Japanese for "one ring and drop." One for your next pub quiz.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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