Eurobites: BT Preps Stock, Bonds Issue to Fund Mobile M&A

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK government gets commitment on mobile coverage; Monsieur Iliad agrees to buy Orange Switzerland; Nokia Networks does Danish VoLTE.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is to fund its planned £12.5 billion (US$19.5 billion) takeover of mobile operator EE with a massive financing package that includes a £2 billion rights issue and an attempt to raise around £3 billion in the bonds markets, reports the Daily Telegraph. If the deal goes through, BT's debt pile will rise to more than £12 billion. Investors clearly aren't too freaked out by BT's financial strategy, as the telco's share price is down by only 0.7% to 399 pence on the London Stock Exchange in Thursday trading. (See BT Offers $19.5B to Buy EE.)

  • Xavier Niel, the telecom maverick who thoroughly disrupted the French mobile market with the launch of Iliad (Euronext: ILD)'s Free brand and made a surprise bid for T-Mobile US Inc. , has agreed to buy Orange Switzerland from Apax Partners for 2.8 billion Swiss francs ($2.9 billion), reports Reuters. (See Iliad Drops T-Mobile US Bid, France's Free Banks on FTTH and Sex Shocker Socks Stock.)

  • The UK government has struck an agreement with the country's mobile operators -- EE , Vodafone UK , Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2 UK) and Three UK UK -- that will result in a collective £5 billion ($7.8 billion) of investments by 2017 to "improve mobile infrastructure" and so reduce the number of areas without any signal by two thirds. The agreement means the operators will not be forced to offer in-country roaming between the rival operators, an option that was not favored by the operators. The new agreement also gives the mobile operators a number of sweeteners, including access to many UK government buildings “to be used as sites for mobile infrastructure -- potentially opening up hundreds of sites to boost mobile coverage, including areas where is has been previously difficult to rollout network coverage.” For the details (which do not include much in the way of specifics about how much will be spent by which companies on what, or where) see this document.

  • Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN)'s Danish unit has chosen Nokia Networks to implement its voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) offering after what the vendor says was a successful trial over the operator's live network. Nokia estimates that by 2016 a tenth of all LTE subscriptions will use VoLTE.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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