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Eurobites: VimpelCom Faces Tough 2015

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice's ambition; Bouygues Telecom sees revenues slide; controlling drones by brainwaves.

  • Russia's VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) is predicting a tough trading year ahead, Bloomberg reports, not least because of the ongoing unrest in Ukraine, one of its most significant business territories. The operator said in a statement that service revenue may drop by as much as a low single-digit percentage in 2015, though one analyst quoted thought this sounded optimistic. Last year VimpelCom's sales fell 13% to $19.6 billion, due in large part to plummeting Russian and Ukrainian currencies on the back of falling oil prices. (See Ukraine 3G Auction Raises Less Than $300M.)

  • Altice, the group that controls cable/mobile combo Numericable-SFR /SFR in France, is on the prowl for more acquisition prey, according to a Financial Times report (subscription required). CEO Dexter Goei told the newspaper that it planned to take advantage of cheap borrowing to extend its European interests. (See Altice Bids €3.9B for Remaining Numericable-SFR Stake, Altice in Exclusive Talks to Buy Portugal Telecom and Eurobites: Numericable Wins SFR M&A Tussle.)

  • Bouygues Telecom , thought to be one of the companies in Altice's sights, saw full-year revenues fall 5% to €4.43 billion (US$5.02 billion), and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) fall by €186 million ($210 million) to €694 million ($786 million).

  • Shares in Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat Co. (Mobily) have been suspended after the operator drastically revised its 2014 financial results, posting a loss instead of a previously announced profit, reports Reuters. The financial regulator said Mobily has some explaining to do.

  • Cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) has got the green light from the European Commission for its plan to acquire a controlling stake in Belgian media group De Vijver, reports Reuters. The cable giant had to agree to license De Vijver's TV channels on fair terms to rivals, if required to.

  • Is this what they mean by "thought leadership"? According to a BBC report, technology has been developed that allows a drone to be controlled from the ground using only a person's brainwaves. The company involved in the project, Tekever, says that in the long term the technology could be used to control larger aircraft, such as cargo planes. Yikes!

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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