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Eurobites: Telefónica Considered Qatari Stake Sale

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU compromise on net neutrality; data-tapping back on the agenda; Tele2 in M2M deal.

  • Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which is currently embroiled in potential M&A talks regarding its UK unit (O2), considered selling a stake in itself to Qatar's sovereign wealth fund towards the end of last year, according to a Bloomberg report. Talks came to a halt, apparently, as Telefónica decided to focus its efforts instead on selling its UK unit -- initially to BT -- and the Qataris found some of the proposed terms of the share sale unfavorable. Qatar's sovereign wealth fund is huge, and it has paid for, among other things, a string of "trophy" properties in London, including The Shard tower and the Harrods department store. (See Hutchison in Talks to Buy UK's O2 – Report.)

  • The Latvian presidency of the European Council has tabled plans to introduce rules that guarantee net neutrality -- but with certain exceptions, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). The compromise proposal would force operators to ensure the "equal treatment of all traffic," though they would be able to offer specialized, faster services as long as that did not result in traffic for other customers being throttled or interfered with in other ways. (See Eurobites: Net Neutrality Rules in Limbo and and Eurobites: Net Neutrality Battle Looms.)

  • The European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator has urged Brussels lawmakers to force ISPs to help security services eavesdrop on emails and calls, reports Reuters. The proposal comes in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, which has prompted several European leaders to harden their stance on online counter-terrorism measures.

  • Etihad Etisalat Co. (Mobily) , the Saudi mobile operator, has reported a shock fourth-quarter loss of 2.28 billion riyals (US$607.1 million), compared to a profit of SAR1.69 billion ($449.7 million) in the same period a year earlier, reports Reuters.

  • Sweden's Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) has formed a partnership with Aerea, the exclusive operator of the Sigfox M2M/IoT network in the Netherlands. The partnership enables Tele2 to provide IoT services over the energy-efficient Sigfox network. (See Sigfox Plans Global IoT Network.)

  • Monitise plc , the UK-based mobile banking specialist, has issued a revenue warning, reports Reuters. The company said it now expects full-year revenue to reach between $136 million and $151 million, well short of an earlier forecast of a 25% improvement on last year's $143.7 figure.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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