In today's regional roundup: Nokia completes unit sale, ushers out senior exec; Ericsson lands 5G R&D loan; Orange and Google team up to co-invest in hot startups; and CityFibre wins government-funded fiber build deal.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has completed the sale of its Digital Health unit (formerly known as Withings) to Eric Carreel, the co-founder and former chairman of Withings. Nokia announced in February that it was looking to offload the business, which was part of its Nokia Technologies division, and said earlier this month it was in talks with Carreel. Nokia had acquired Withings for €170 million only two years ago. With the divestment process complete, Nokia is also saying goodbye to Gregory Lee, head of Nokia Technologies: What's left of the Technologies division -- basically, the company's technology licensing business -- will now be the responsibility of the vendor's Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona. "I am proud of the fact that I leave Nokia Technologies as a stronger and more focused organization, strategically aligned to make a meaningful impact on Nokia's business performance," noted Lee in a carefully-worded prepared statement that should secure his leaving bonus. (See Nokia disposes of Withings and yet another Technologies President plus Eurobites: Nokia Gets a Case of the Shakes Over Digital Health Market and Eurobites: Nokia in Talks to Sell Digital Health Biz Back to Its Founder.)
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has signed a €250 million credit facility agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to provide it with access to additional 5G R&D funds. The vendor says the arrangement will support its "research and development activities for 5G and extend our debt maturity profile." The EIB, meanwhile, believes the move will "make sure that thousands of highly-skilled jobs will stay in the EU." While such comments are clearly meant to be positive, they also seem to reflect the rather precarious nature of Ericsson's business just now. For more on this, see Ericsson lands €250mn 5G loan from European Investment Bank.
French giant Orange (NYSE: FTE) has teamed up with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) to identify and co-invest in hot startups based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Orange Digital Ventures (ODV) will work with Google investments specialists to evaluate startups focused on "new connectivities, IoT, cybersecurity, cloud, AI, fintech, as well as new business models." Orange is already particularly active in funding startups across Africa, where it has a number of operations and a growing mobile services business. (See Orange's AME Recovery Continues in Q1, Orange Launches €50M Fund for Startups Focused on Africa and Africa's Talking Raises $8.6M From IFC & Others.)
UK wholesale broadband access network operator CityFibre , which recently won a Leading Lights award, has been selected to build fiber access network infrastructure in nine towns in West Sussex (South England) in a project that is being funded under the UK Government's Local Full Fibre Networks initiative (LFFN) stimulus programme. CityFibre, which is set to be acquired by an investment group. will build out fiber access links to 152 local government sites in a deal valued at £5.7 million. Construction is set to start in August, with the first live connections expected in early 2019. (See Eurobites: Investment Group Makes £538M Bid for CityFibre.)
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading