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Eurobites: Orange Mulls French M&A Action

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Liberty Global reorganizes; Netflix rolls on to TalkTalk; German cable capers.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE), which is in the process of agreeing a deal to sell its stake in UK operator EE to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), is planning to look at further consolidation in its domestic market if and when that deal is done, reports Reuters. CEO Stephane Richard acknowledged a "natural pressure towards consolidation" as competition in the French market intensifies, though an attempt to buy rival Bouygues Telecom failed last year. (See Eurobites: Orange Expects BT M&A Decision by Christmas.)

  • Shares in Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT) slumped 12% Monday following the decision of shareholders to suspend a vote on a €7.4 billion ($8.7 billion) deal to sell a chunk of its former assets to Altice, reports Bloomberg. (See Eurobites: Portugal Telecom Set to Decide on Altice Sale.)

  • US-based cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) is set to reorganize its European operations, according to a Reuters report. Reuters' sources say that Liberty will merge UPC Netherlands with Ziggo B.V. , and UPC Ireland with Virgin Media. (See Euronews: Rivals Set for Cable Asset Battle.)

  • The inexorable rise of bandwidth-munching Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) continues apace in Europe: Its latest deal is with UK triple-play provider TalkTalk, which says that 1.2 million UK homes will have access to Netflix through their YouView set-top boxes by the end of the month. (See Eurobites: Could Netflix Crash Europe's Networks?)

  • Elliott Management, an activist investor in Kabel Deutschland GmbH , isn't happy about Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s proposed $11 billion takeover of the German cable company and has called for a fresh audit of the deal, as well as a shareholder meeting to thrash some issues out, reports Bloomberg.

  • Elsewhere on the German cable front, Tele Columbus AG is launching 400Mbit/s broadband in April, beginning in the Potsdam region. Reuters also reports that the operator is moving into mobile services for the first time this year.

  • UK regulator Ofcom looks set to force the English soccer Premier League to allow more matches to be broadcast live, according to a Daily Telegraph report. Cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) complained last year that the restriction on live broadcasts was artificially forcing up the cost of the content it buys wholesale from Sky Sports and BT Sport.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • James_B_Crawshaw 1/13/2015 | 4:30:44 PM
    Tele Columbus They also announced pricing for their IPO. So it looks like it is finally going ahead this time and Vodafone, Liberty and DT have all passed on the opportunity to buy it pre IPO, presumably on anti-trust concerns. 
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