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Eurobites: Proximus Secures €400M Loan to Further Fiber Rollout

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Fox bites back at Comcast over Sky offer; KPN sells iBasis; MTN revenue down, but profit up; UK's Cobham Wireless lands 5G gig in China.

  • Belgium's Proximus has negotiated a €400 million (US$495 million) loan from the European Investment Bank to support the further rollout and upgrade of its fixed-line infrastructure, with the focus on fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-business (FTTB). The deal forms part of the operator's wider "Fiber for Belgium" project, which will see Proximus invest €3 billion ($3.71 billion) in its fiber network over ten years.

  • 21st Century Fox is hoping to stick a spanner in the works of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s attempted takeover of pay-TV giant Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), urging EU and UK regulators to take a long, hard look at Comcast's broadcasting and competition compliance record, the Daily Telegraph reports. Comcast has offered $31 billion to acquire Sky -- a bid that offers a 16% premium over the amount that Fox has already put on the table. (See Why Sky's the Limit for Comcast and Comcast Bids $31B to Steal Sky From Fox, Disney.)

  • Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is to sell iBasis Inc. (Nasdaq: IBAS), its US-based subsidiary that deals in international voice termination and data services, to France's Tofane Global for an undisclosed sum. In 2017, iBasis generated €705 million ($872 million) in revenues and €24 million ($29.7 million) in EBITDA.

  • South Africa's MTN Group Ltd. saw headline profit rise to 20.6 billion rand ($1.73 billion) in 2017, from ZAR14.2 billion ($1.19 billion) in 2016, despite revenue declining by ZAR15.1 billion ($1.26 billion). As Reuters reports, the apparent anomaly can be largely attributed to a huge fine it received in Nigeria in 2016 for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards that impacted that year's bottom line. (See Eurobites: MTN Earnings Hit by Nigerian Fine.)

  • UK-based Cobham Wireless is making its presence felt in Asia, delivering Massive MIMO-based 5G NR network test capabilities to the China Mobile Research Institute. Cobham's offering involves testing the technology in a virtualized environment that can simulate a wide range of real-world conditions.

  • French conglomerate Vivendi is attempting to Gallic-shrug off the threat posed by Elliott, the activist hedge fund that is fighting Vivendi for control of Telecom Italia (TIM) by acquiring a stake in the Italian incumbent. Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine told Italian daily Il Messaggero: "By definition an activist fund's approach implies a degree of disagreement with the way a company is run but we don't know yet in detail what their intentions are."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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