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Eurobites: Telecom Italia Bids $932M for Metroweb

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telecom Italia helps move European Commission to the cloud; Virgin Media revenues up 3.7% in first quarter; BT's new cyber security service.

  • Hard on the heels of yesterday's news of utility firm Enel making an informal bid for Metroweb SpA comes a Reuters report that Telecom Italia (TIM) has made a formal cash offer for the fiber network company. According to an unnamed source, the offer values Metroweb -- which would form a vital piece of any national broadband network -- at more than €820 million (US$932 million). Last year Metroweb rejected a similar proposal from Telecom Italia, which some commentators thought might prompt Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) to make a move on Metroweb. (See Eurobites: Metroweb Spurns Telecom Italia Advances.)

  • Separately, Telecom Italia has landed a two-year contract to help move the European Commission to the cloud, via the Italian incumbent's Telecom Italia Sparkle and Olivetti SpA subsidiaries. The two Italian companies will work with Amazon Web Services Inc. , whose cloud platform will provide the bedrock for the project. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), the UK and Ireland cable operator that is now part of the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) empire, saw first-quarter revenues rise 3.7% year-on-year to £1.17 billion ($1.68 billion), though operating income slipped more than 8% to £89 million ($128 million). Organic customer additions soared to 48,000 in the quarter, compared to 5,000 in the same period a year earlier, while churn decreased from 14.5% to 14.1%. Average revenue per user (ARPU) also edged up, by 1.5% to £49.20 ($70.98), discounting the effects of foreign exchange movements. The company is doing well in the "ultrafast" (100 Mbit/s or higher) broadband department, with higher-tier speeds being taken by almost half of its 5.1 million broadband customers. Its TV services (TiVo in the UK and Horizon in Ireland) also performed well, adding 81,000 subscribers in the quarter. Mobile was a weak spot, with Virgin's overall mobile base declining by 16,000 in the quarter as its prepaid contingent shrivelled. (See Eurobites: Virgin Sticks 300 Mbit/s Up to BT.)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is looking to exploit well-founded concerns about cyber security in the enterprise with the launch of a new service, Cyber Roadmap Consulting, which it describes as a consultancy program designed to give large organizations a better understanding of the security risks facing them and help them implement counter-measures.

  • Spotify , the Swedish music-streaming company, is claiming that its pace of growth has actually increased since Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) launched its rival service, Apple Music, last June. As Reuters reports, Spotify has nearly 100 million users, though less than third of them actually pay for the service. Apple Music claims to have 13 million paying users.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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