Eurobites: Iliad Spies Italian Opportunity

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone's Dutch sale confirmed; Virgin's third quarter; KPN invests in tech fund; Turkey throttling.

  • French "enfant terrible" operator Iliad (Euronext: ILD) is in preliminary talks with Italian utility company Enel SpA about using the fiber network that Enel plans to build in Italy, Reuters reports. Iliad became Italy's fourth mobile operator in a deal that paved the way for 3 Italia to merge with VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP)'s Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA . (See Italian Fear of Iliad May Be Overblown and Eurobites: Hutch, VimpelCom's Italian Job Gets EC Blessing.)

  • Vodafone Netherlands has confirmed that it is to sell its fixed-line business, Vodafone Thuis, to T-Mobile Netherlands for an undisclosed sum. This sale was offered to the European Commission by Vodafone and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) as one of the conditions of clearance for the merger of Vodafone Netherlands and Ziggo B.V. The deal still needs approval, however, from the Dutch competition authority. Vodafone Thuis has around 150,000 fixed broadband customers. (See Vodafone, Liberty Global Form Dutch JV.)

  • Elsewhere in the Liberty Global empire, UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is reporting its third quarter, with operating income up 30% year-on-year to £85 million ($106 million) and 45,000 organic customer additions. Virgin is still in the midst of its Project Lightning fiber rollout, with new-build premises very much a focus -- it added 95,000 new-build premises in the third quarter, thanks partly to a series of deals with homebuilders. (See Virgin Media Plots £3B Invasion of BT Turf.)

  • KPN Ventures is pumping €10 million ($11.1 million) into a technology investment fund being launched by KEEN Venture Partners LLP. KEEN was set up Ben Verwaayen, best known to Light Reading as the former CEO of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Alcatel-Lucent. The new fund will be used to provide early growth capital for technology companies, "with a particular focus on innovation hubs in the UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany." (See Farewell Then, Ben.)

  • An Internet monitoring group in Turkey has claimed that its government has used "throttling" techniques to block access to Twitter and Whatsapp following the detentions of 11 pro-Kurdish politicians on Thursday evening, Reuters reports.

  • Pay-TV giant Sky is launching its flagship entertainment channel, Sky 1, in Germany and Austria. The channel will offer drama from the likes of HBO and Showtime, as well as more locally produced fare.

  • Safaricom Ltd. 's half-year numbers are in and, as the Financial Times reports (subscription required), the Kenyan operator's data-based services accounted for more than half of its service revenue for the first time. Mobile data revenue rose 46.3% year-on-year to 13.4 billion Kenyan shillings ($130m), while overall EBITDA climbed 30.8% to Ks50.8 billion ($500 million).

  • The European Commission's claims that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is systematically favoring its own comparison-shopping service in its search results have been dismissed by the search giant in a blog as "wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics," Bloomberg reports. (See Eurobites: Brussels Goes In Hard on Google.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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