Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Liberty Global abandons acquisition of Multimedia Polska; Telecom Italia does mobile money; BT downgraded by Moody's; EU still on Google's case.
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has formed an alliance with two power technology companies in a bid to promote, in the vendor's words, "cost-effective and sustainable service provider network evolution towards 5G." The tie-up with Vertiv and NorthStar will draw on the former's expertise in power, thermal and infrastructure site management and the latter's knowledge of battery and energy storage solutions to enhance Ericsson's Radio Site System.
Cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) has abandoned its plan to acquire Multimedia Polska and merge it with its Polish operation, UPC Polska. The deal,
first announced in late 2016, had been worth about €690 million (US$856 million at current conversion rates). Liberty Global noted in a filing with the SEC that it had failed to agree "revised commercial terms with the sellers that take into account current regulatory and market conditions." For more details, see this Digital TV Europe article.
Telecom Italia (TIM) has introduced a new electronic money offering, which allows its customers to request a virtual prepaid Mastercard via a dedicated app by taking a "selfie" photograph for authentication purposes. The TIMpersonal app then allows them to check their bank balances, make peer-to-peer payments and pay by smartphone in participating stores.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and its mobile subsidiary EE were both downgraded by Moody's on Friday, sliding from a Baa1 to a Baa2 credit rating. As Interactive Investor reports, Moody's Vice President & Senior Analyst Laura Perez said that the downgrade reflects a "deterioration in [BT's] underlying operating performance trends, a signficant capital spending risk, and the sustained large pension deficit."
The EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has told the Daily Telegraph that her organization still holds "grave suspicions" about Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s market dominance, and that its break-up can't be ruled out. Last year the European Commission slapped a €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) fine on Google for alleged abuse of its market dominance through unfair promotion of its comparison-shopping service, though the search giant is still appealing against the fine. (See Eurobites: EU Fines Google $2.7B Over Shopping Shenanigans.)
Investigators from the UK's Information Commissioner's Office made good on their promise on Friday to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica, the company accused of illegally using data gleaned from the Facebook profiles of millions of Americans to help further the cause of Donald Trump. As Reuters reports, 20 ICO officials arrived at the London offices on Friday evening after a High Court judge had granted them a search warrant. Stormy times ahead, surely, for all concerned.
Spotify , the Swedish music streaming service, has revealed that 2 million users of its free, ad-supported service have managed to block the ads and effectively receive Spotify's paid-for Premium service without paying. As Reuters reports, the revelation comes at an awkward time, as the company prepares for an IPO on the New York exchange on April 3.