Euronews: FT Must Pay Back Illegal State Aid

Orange (NYSE: FTE), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Yota dominate proceedings in today's trot through the EMEA telecoms headlines.

  • Some bad news for France Telecom this morning: The European Court of Justice has upheld a 2004 European Commission ruling that the operator received illegal state aid between 1994 and 2002. And now it's payback time. The amount to be recovered is thought to lie somewhere between €798 million (US$1.06 billion) and €1.14 billion ($1.52 billion), plus interest. (See France Telecom in Scrap Over State Aid.)

  • The Financial Times reports that Nokia is to sell Vertu , its "blingphone" subsidiary that specializes in serving the niche -- and frankly more-money-than-sense -- market for "handmade" mobiles containing various shards of precious metals/stones and costing thousands of pounds. (See The Vertu Vanishes and Paltrow's Massive Wedge.)

  • Several Russian wireless service providers have made formal partnership agreements with each other as part of a drive to share a single Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. WiMax operator Yota has signed agreements with MegaFon and Rostelecom , while the latter has also brokered a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) relationship that will allow it to offer LTE services to its 100 million or so users. Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) and VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) are expected to join the party in due course. (See Russian Into LTE and Russian Ops to Share LTE Network.)

  • Navx , a France-based provider of "geolocalized" content for smartphones and GPS systems, is suing Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) in the Paris Commercial Court for €23 million ($30.7 million) in damages for what it sees as the search behemoth's abuse of its dominant position. The case centers on how Google's pay-per-click Adwords system showed -- or failed to show -- Navx's advertisements. (See Navx Seeks €23M in Damages From Google.)

  • Smartphone Patent Wars, Part 94: German retailers have been threatened with legal action by IPCom if they keep on selling High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498)'s smartphones, reports the BBC. The argy-bargy stems from a patent claim won by the German firm in February 2009. (See Euronews: ST-Ericsson Appoints New CEO.)

  • EE , the mobile mouthful formed by Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) , has announced it is investing more than £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) over the next three years to get its infrastructure ready for the eventual arrival of 4G. Separately, The Guardian reports that EvEv, as we hep cats like to call it, is appointing financial advisers in readiness for the mandated sell-off of a chunk of its 2G spectrum, which is estimated to be worth around £425 million ($667 million). (See Everything Everywhere Invests £1.5B for LTE, Everything Everywhere Shrinks in Q2 and CEO Quits Everything Everywhere.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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