Eurobites: Fastweb Buys Tiscali's Fixed-Wireless Biz, 5G Spectrum

Paul Rainford
7/31/2018
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telenor CEE sale gets EC approval; Vivendi reveals Telecom Italia write-down; Liberty Global completes Austrian sale.

  • Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB), Swisscom's Italian broadband subsidiary, has agreed to acquire Tiscali SpA 's fixed-wireless business and full ownership of its 5G-friendly 3.5GHz spectrum in a deal worth around €150 million (US$176 million). The business boasts 835 towers, related equipment and 34 staff, most of them engineers. Since December 2016, Fastweb has had the right to use 3.5GHz spectrum in the main Italian cities, leasing it from Aria, a subsidiary of Tiscali. Fastweb says the deal will allow it to provide fixed-wireless connectivity to all market segments in Italy.

  • The European Commission has approved the proposed €2.8 billion ($3.3 billion) sale of Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN)'s interests in central and eastern Europe to Czech-based investment group PPF, according to Novinite. The deal includes Telenor's mobile operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as systems integrator Telenor Common Operation. Telenor hopes that the sale will help it focus better on its core markets, which are to be found in Scandinavia and parts of Asia. (See Telenor Offloads Its CEE Unit for €2.8B.)

  • The half-year results of French media conglomerate Vivendi reveal that it has written down the value of its shares in Telecom Italia (TIM) by €512 million ($601 million). According to the Vivendi earnings statement, this was done "to take into account the execution risks associated with this industrial plan given Vivendi’s lower power to participate in Telecom Italia's financial and operating policy decisions." Vivendi, which holds a 24% stake in TIM had effectively taken control of the operator, but has seen its grip on TIM slip following a feud with activist investor Elliott Management, which has been unhappy with the French company's management of TIM. (See Telecom Italia Molders as Shareholders Feud and Telecom Italia Names Genish CEO After Boardroom Battle.)

  • Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) has completed the sale of its Austrian operations to T-Mobile Austria, for €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion). The deal forms part of a wider retreat by Liberty from European markets, with cable assets in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania also being sold, to Vodafone. (See Liberty Stages European Retreat.)

  • It seems last year's two customer data breaches at UK phones-and-more retailer Dixons Carphone were worse than we thought: According to the BBC, it has now been discovered that the incidents exposed the details of around 10 million people -- initially it had been thought that the records of "just" 1.2 million customers had been affected. While Dixons maintains that no bank details were taken, other personal information, including names, addresses and email addresses had been potentially hoovered up.

  • VEON , the Amsterdam-headquartered operator that makes most of its money in and around Russia, has appointed three new members to its board, two of whom -- Guillaume Bacuvier and Osama Bedier -- have senior positions at Google on their resumes. The third man is Robert Jan van de Kraats, a Dutch chartered accountant.

  • In a move that could have ramifications for the balance sheets of UK telcos, regulator Ofcom is proposing new rules that would compel service providers to inform their customers when they are approaching the end of their minimum contract period. Currently, more than 10 million UK customers are on contracts that come with an automatic price increase at the end -- on average, customers who take their landline and broadband services as a "bundle" pay 20% more when they are out of contract, which could be regarded as a nice little earner, albeit an ethically dubious one.

  • What's that coming over the hill, is it a… Coppersaurus?! The marketing aces at UK altnet CityFibre have come up with a novel wheeze to draw attention to CityFibre's demand that only "pure fiber" should be allowed to be advertised as fiber broadband. The conceit is that while digging trenches for its full-fiber connections in the city of Milton Keynes it unearthed a "Coppersaurus," a symbol for all that CityFibre sees as wrong in the UK's current confusing fiber/copper/Gfast/HFC/bits-of-string broadband set-up. Well, it makes a change from Usain Bolt, I suppose.

    Grrrr
    Subtle as a flying mallet.
    Subtle as a flying mallet.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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