Mergers & acquisitions

Euronews: March 14

Vivendi , Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Telecom Italia (TIM) and Orange (NYSE: FTE) are just some of the runners 'n' riders in today's roundup of news from the EMEA region.

  • Vivendi, the French telecoms and entertainment conglomerate, has said it's not willing to pay more than £6 billion (US$9.6 billion) for Vodafone's 44 percent stake in mobile operator SFR , Reuters reports, citing the Financial Times. Vivendi already owns 56 percent of SFR. (See Will Vodafone Bid SFR Adieu?, Euronews: March 1 and Vodafone Updates Strategy, Profit Outlook.)

  • A management reshuffle is on the cards at Telecom Italia, according to a Bloomberg report. Sources "familiar with the matter" are saying that current CEO Franco Bernabe will be made executive chairman, while Marco Patuano will be promoted to step into Bernabe's no doubt stylish Italian loafers. (See Mixed 2010 for Euro Giants and Telecom Italia Reports 2010.)

  • The French and Spanish governments are in trouble with the European Commission for the tax they imposed on telcos to make up for the revenues lost following the removal of advertising on public TV channels. According to a report on Reuters, France and Spain are effectively up in court Monday, while Hungary could follow suit soon. (See Euronews: Oct. 18.)

  • A joint venture has been formed between France Telecom and logistics company Agility to acquire a 44 percent stake in Iraqi mobile operator Korek Telecom Ltd. For its part, France Telecom will pay $245 million for a 20 percent indirect stake in Korek. (See France Telecom JV Buys in Iraq and Scrambling for Africa, M&A-Style.)

  • The board of Zain Group has "tentatively accepted" a $950 million joint bid from Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) and Kingdom Holding for its Saudi operations, reports The Economic Times. Zain is currently the target of a $12 billion takeover bid from rival Middle Eastern carrier Etisalat . (See Etisalat Extends Zain Talks and Euronews: March 4.)

  • A brood of U.K. broadband providers have signed up to a new code of conduct regarding traffic management practices, with the aim of making the processes related to this data traffic dark art more transparent. Sky , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Telefónica UK Ltd. , TalkTalk , Three UK , Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) are all backing the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) initiative, which, it is hoped, will provide more easily comparable traffic management information. And, on Wednesday, the net neutrality fun continues with a U.K. government-led gathering of broadband movers and shakers, hosted by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, reports the BBC. (See UK ISPs Open Up on Traffic Management.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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