In today's EMEA regional roundup: Has Telit CEO's past caught up with him?; Omantel takes a near 10% stake in Zain; Interoute improves its margins; Ericsson lands role in smart meter project.
Oozi Cats, the marvellously-named CEO of IoT module specialist Telit , has taken a "leave of absence" while the company reviews "speculation regarding historical indictments" in the US that "are unrelated to Telit and significantly pre-date its establishment." The speculation, as reported by Reuters, suggests that Cats might also be the Uzi Kats who was allegedly involved in a real estate fraud scheme in the US in the 1990s. Although the case was dropped, it was not mentioned in Telit's prospectus when it went public on London's AIM market in 2005. Telit's stock crashed by about 45% Wednesday to 120 pence following the news, though it has recovered slightly today to 135.5 pence. The company recently reported first half revenues of US$177.6 million, up 6.9% year-on-year.
There's M&A action in the Middle East as
Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) has agreed to acquire a 9.84% stake in Zain Group for $846.1 million. "Acquiring a minority stake in Zain is a deliberate investment for Omantel as we position ourselves as a leading digital service provider," states Omantel's CFO Martial Caratti in a media announcement. "This is in line with our Corporate Strategy 3.0, launched in 2015. We have always emphasised that growth will come from continued diversification, and this acquisition positions Omantel for the future." Zain Group, which has about 45.2 million mobile customers in eight markets, is mainly focused on the Middle East, where it has operations in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon, but it is also a major mobile operator in the Republic of Sudan, where it is the mobile market leader with about 55% market share, and in South Sudan. For the first six months of 2017, Zain reported revenues of 508 million Kuwaiti Dinar ($1.67 billion), down 8% year-on-year in KWD terms. (See Sudan Weighs on Zain's H1 Financials.)
Pan-European cloud, enterprise and wholesale service provider Interoute Communications Ltd. reported a slight year-on-year dip in second quarter revenues to €177 million ($208 million), but a 52% increase in EBITDA to €38 million ($44.6 million).
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has landed a role in a consortium led by Zain Kuwait that will undertake a major utilities digital transformation project. The project involves the deployment of a smart metering system in Kuwait, for which Ericsson will supply an Enterprise and Cloud Billing solution, a Multiservice Delivery Platform and a range of managed services related to IoT applications and network operations and security. For more, read this report from our sister site Telecoms.com: Ericsson gets Zain Kuwait digital transformation gig.
Danish incumbent operator TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC) says it will be taking steps to address its TV customer base declines following the loss of a further 23,000 TV customers in Denmark during the second quarter, reports Digital TV Europe. The operator reported a 2.9% year-on-year dip in second quarter revenues to 5.05 billion Danish Krone ($795 million) and a 34% decline in adjusted operating profit to DKK413 million ($65 million).
Djibouti Telecom, the East African nation's government-owned network operator, has struck a deal to peer its traffic through the Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Paris and Marseille run by France-IX Services . The operator says the move will reduce latency on its IP network, which plays an important role in connecting service providers and enterprises in East Africa to the rest of the world. (See The Making of Africa's Most Strategic Bandwidth Hub.)
Ericsson reports that Francisco Partners has completed its $200 million investment in iconectiv, an independent subsidiary of the Swedish giant. For its cash, the investment firm gets a 16.7% stake in iconectiv, which develops network interconnect solutions. (See Francisco Partners Invests in Ericsson's iconectiv.)