Eurobites: Xavier Niel makes $4.1B bid for Millicom

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TIM begins copper switch-off; Huawei sets up cloud region in Cairo; Switzerland's Salt has a tasty first quarter.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

May 24, 2024

2 Min Read
French businessman Xavier Niel
Xavier Niel: His checkbook never sleeps.(Source: Abaca Press/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Xavier Niel, the ever-acquisitive billionaire and founder of French operator Iliad, has put in a non-binding bid of around $4.1 billion for Millicom International Cellular, via his Atlas investment vehicle. Millicom, though nominally based in Luxembourg, provides telecom services in Latin America through its Tigo brand. Niel's NJJ Holding already owns a 29% stake in Millicom, according to a Reuters report. (See Eurobites: Iliad takes 19.8% stake in Tele2, Eurobites: Iliad founder Niel buys slice of Vodafone, Iliad bolsters Polish Play with UPC buy and Xavier Niel secures over 85% of Iliad.)

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has begun its copper switch-off, with the first 62 exchanges set to be decommissioned as of tomorrow (Saturday). TIM hopes to have unplugged more than 6,700 exchanges – out of its approximately 10,500 existing ones – by 2028. The switch-off involves transferring the connections on these exchanges (ADSL, ISDN and RTG telephone lines) to the latest-generation TIM network, already available totally or partially through fiber. TIM is also highlighting the potential environmental benefits of the switch-off: It says decommissioning the exchanges and the simultaneous switch-off of related equipment will allow a reduction of approximately 450,000 megawatt hours and 209.6 million kilos in carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Huawei has established its latest "cloud region," in Cairo, Egypt, which it says will serve as a public cloud hub for countries in North Africa. The Chinese operator also announced its new Arabic large language model (LLM), LLMs being one of the most important building blocks of artificial intelligence and a facilitator of automatic speech recognition based services, among other things.

  • Swiss operator Salt enjoyed a strong first quarter, with operating revenue up 6.4% year-over-year, to 235.8 million Swiss francs (US$257.7 million), and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) up 4.3%, to CHF140.8 million ($153.9 million). Subscriber-wise, Salt registered 30,200 postpaid mobile net adds in the consumer and business segments, while its fiber-based broadband now covers 2 million households.

  • Orange Ventures and Digital Africa have teamed up to invest more in African and Middle Eastern tech startups via the latter's Fuzé program. Through Fuzé, it is now possible to double the funds committed by one of the two parties, through joint appraisal of applications and the possibility of joint financing. Startups interested in taking advantage of this new initiative should visit the Orange Ventures, Orange Digital Center or Digital Africa websites.

  • Vodafone has published its first Climate Transition Plan, setting out the actions the operator needs to take to make progress toward "net zero" over the next three years or so. Interestingly, Vodafone has decided it needs to regionalize its approach to climate transition, setting two different targets for its European operations and its African ones. For the former, it plans to reach net zero by 2028; for the latter, the deadline is 2035 – which seems counterintuitive, given the raging climate emergency in Africa.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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