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Eurobites: Sky Shareholders Spurn Comcast Offer

In today's regional roundup: Sky investors don't fancy Comcast's offer; Apple set for Shazam M&A approval; CTO leaves Three UK; Sunrise shines in Q2; Swisscom teams with MIT.

  • Sky's shareholders have largely ignored Comcast's offer of £14.75 per share as they hold out for a higher takeover bid from 21st Century Fox . Comcast's offer, which had been recommended by the Sky board, was accepted by investors holding only 0.21% of the total stock base by the initial deadline of 1pm UK time Wednesday. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has now extended its offer until 1pm on September 12. Fox's offer is currently £14 per share, but the expectation is that it will, at some point, trump the Comcast bid. Fox has until September 22 to increase its offer. Eurobites secretly hopes that Fox will increase its bid to £14.76 per share, just for the laughs. (See Fox's Sky Offer Doesn't Trump Comcast's, but Could Extend Bidding War.)

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) looks set to win unconditional antitrust approval from the European Commission for its planned acquisition of Shazam Entertainment Ltd. , the UK-developed app that helps music fans identify tracks they hear when out and about, according to sources cited in this Reuters report. (See Apple to Buy Music App Shazam for $400M – Report.)

  • The much respected CTO of mobile operator Three UK , Bryn Jones, has left the company and will not be directly replaced. The operator says the CTO duties "will be split across a number of people in our network team. Our COO (Graham Baxter) will continue to have overall responsibility," notes a Three UK spokesman in an email. "After six years at Three, helping us to transform our network, Bryn has decided that this is the right time for a career and lifestyle change. Bryn has been core to improving our customer experience and, more recently, putting the foundations and contracts in place for our new 5G network. Having travelled daily from Bath to Reading, Maidenhead and occasionally London every day throughout his six years with us, Bryn is keen to make some changes to his work-life balance which means he will be able to spend more time with his family. We would like to thank Bryn for his leadership, development of the network team and the incredible improvements he and his team have delivered on behalf of Three. Bryn has been a real asset to our organisation and a key player in making Three the most reliable network." (See 5G Is Just a New Lick of Paint, Say Euro Telcos and Digging Deeper Into Three UK's Transformation Program.)

  • Swiss operator Sunrise Communications AG reported year-on-year increases in its revenues, gross margins and key customer numbers, but a slight dip in earnings, for the second quarter of the year. Revenues were up 2.1% to 463 million Swiss francs (US$470 million) and gross profits up by 1.9% to CHF303 million ($308 million), while mobile postpaid subscriber numbers grew by 7.7% to 1.65 million. Fixed broadband customer numbers were up 11% to 442,000 and IPTV subscriptions grew 22.3% to 229,000. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was down 1.4% to CHF147 million ($149 million), while net profit slipped 10.1% to CHF24 million ($24.4 million). CEO Olaf Swantee -- one of the favorites to be the next CEO at BT -- lauded the operator's "solid performance," and investors were pleased with the progress, as Sunrise's stock jumped 6.5% to CHF92.50 in Thursday morning trading on the Zurich stock exchange. (See BT's Next CEO: Odds Lengthen on Garfield, Swantee New Favorite and Eurobites: 'Get Carter!' Says BT's Board – Report.)

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has teamed up with the MIT Sloan School of Management to work on "process and data analysis," with Dr. Michael Baeriswyl, the Swiss operator's Head of Data, Analytics & AI, and Peter Fregelius, Head of TV & Entertainment, heading up Swisscom's efforts. "We are pleased to start our first research projects with MIT. This enables us to combine MIT's unique research capabilities with our expertise in the areas of communication and entertainment in the Swiss market," noted Dr. Baeriswyl. Swisscom says it has been working for some time with universities such as the EPFL in Lausanne and the ETH Zurich "to promote innovation."

    — Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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