Eurobites: UK Govt. Broadband Boost Sounds Familiar

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: IPO for Poland's Play; Keymile sells networks unit to ABB; MTS appoints new CMO.

  • The UK government has been mocked by its political opponents for announcing its £400 million (US$519 million) fund to help boost broadband speeds -- for the third time. As The Independent reports, the Digital Infrastructure Investment fund was first trumpeted in the Autumn Statement, repeated in March in the Spring Budget and today sees its "official" launch. Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow digital economy minister, told the newspaper the fact that the government has now made the announcement three times "shows the paucity of the Government's strategy and vision for digital infrastructure in this country." The government hopes that the fund will generate an additional £1 billion ($1.3 billion) in capital from private sector partners.

  • Polish mobile operator Play Communications is moving ahead with plans for an IPO in Warsaw that it hopes will raise up to 5.2 billion zlotys ($1.4 billion), Reuters reports. The operator, owned by Greek fund Tollerton and Icelandic investor Novator, plans to sell up to 48.6% of its total equity. (See Poland's Play Plots €3.5B IPO.)

  • ABB, the Zurich-based electrical products manufacturer, has bought Keymile AG 's communication networks unit for an undisclosed price, Reuters reports. ABB hopes that the acquisition will bolster its Power Grids division.

  • Russia's Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) has appointed Vyacheslav Nikolaev as its new chief marketing officer. Nikolaev has most recently been head of B2C Marketing at the operator. His predecessor, Vasyl Latsanych, has apparently left to pursue other opportunities.

  • Telia has completed its €165 million ($187 million) acquisition of Nebula Top Oy, a Finnish provider of cloud services to SME and SoHo customers. Nebula has 145 employees and claims a customer base of around 44,000.

  • UK pay-TV giant Sky has invested $2 million in US-based Circle Media Labs, a startup specializing in connected devices.

  • UK towers firm Arqiva has announced a 15-year partnership with Landsec, a commercial real estate company, to deliver 4G connectivity to Bluewater, the massive shopping mall near London. The existing 2G and 3G systems will be replaced as part of the overhaul.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has received approval from the UK customs authorities to turn on a new electronic facility that, says the UK incumbent, will allow goods being imported and exported by air to continue to pass through UK Customers in the wake of an unplanned IT outage. In the light of the recent cyber attacks afflicting many large organizations in the UK and elsewhere, this sounds like a handy fallback position…

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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