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Eurobites: United Group Agrees to Buy Bulgaria's Vivacom for €1.2B

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Netnod pushes 400GE ports; EU Google-taming isn't working; C-V2X Plugtest revs up in Malaga.

  • Vivacom, the previously state-owned Bulgarian operator, has found a buyer in the shape of United Group, a private equity-backed cable company. As the Financial Times reports (paywall applies), United Group, owned by BC Partners, is paying €1.2 billion (US$1.32 billion) for Vivacom, and this deal is just the latest United has struck in the Balkan region -- in May it agreed to buy Tele2 Croatia for €220 million ($242 million). Vivacom was put on the slab back in July, despite a long-running legal dispute over ownership of the company between Bulgarian businessman Spas Roussev, who owns 46% of Vivacom, and Russia's Dmitry Kosarev, who bought a stake in the Luxembourg holding company that owned Vivacom prior to its sale at auction in 2015. (See Eurobites: Bulgaria's Vivacom Goes on Sale, Despite Ownership Row.)

  • Netnod, a provider of interconnection services in the Nordics, has made 400 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) ports available at its Internet Exchanges in Stockholm and Copenhagen. According to Netnod, this makes it the first Internet Exchange (IX) in the world to have deployed 400GE ports at multiple IX locations.

  • The European Commission's attempt to create a more level playing field for online price-comparison services using Google's platform has not proved very effective so far. That, at least, is the verdict of European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who two years ago hit Google with a €2.4 billion ($2.64 billion) fine for what the Commission saw as the search giant's unfair manipulation of its search results to favor its own price-comparison service at the expense of its smaller rivals. As Reuters reports, she told a conference: "We may see a show of rivals in the shopping box. We may see a pickup when it comes to clicks for merchants. But we still do not see much traffic for viable competitors when it comes to shopping comparison." (See Eurobites: Google's Q2 Gouged by EU Mega-Fine.)

  • The Connected Vehicle Test Development Centre in Malaga, Spain, is to host the first C-V2X Plugtest event next month. Vendors with skin in the connected-car game will, from December 2-6, be able to run interoperability test sessions and validate their understanding of the relevant standards. The event has been organized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

  • BT, the UK incumbent operator, is displaying some out-of-box thinking in its campaign to promote women's soccer. It has persuaded the Red Lion pub in London's financial district to be rebranded as the "Red Lioness" for the next ten days, filling it with memorabilia related to and photography of women's soccer. The pub is one of 750 pubs in the Greene King chain to sign up to a pledge by BT's pay-TV channel, BT Sport, to screen all women's soccer matches live, from the domestic league competition to internationals featuring the England team, the members of which are known to their growing number of fans as "the Lionesses."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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