Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson keeps investors happy; TeliaSonera falls short; BSkyB counts cost of soccer content war.
Could the formation of a new government in Austria last month pave the way for Mexico's Carlos Slim to begin a bid for majority control of the country's incumbent operator? That's the prediction being made in this Reuters report, which points out that a bid for Telekom Austria AG (NYSE: TKA; Vienna: TKA) would make sense for Slim following his failed attempt to take control of KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) in the Netherlands. Currently Slim holds a 27% stake in Telekom Austria, while the government's stake is slightly higher. (See Euronews: Slim Abandons KPN Bid.)
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has produced a solid set of fourth-quarter results that have pleased investors, sending the vendor's share price up 2.8% to SEK79.55 in Thursday morning trading. Fourth-quarter sales inched up to 67 billion Swedish kronor (US$10.3 billion), from SEK66.9 billion ($10.3 billion) a year earlier, though net income for the quarter was down 6.3% at SEK6.4 billion ($985 million). However, Ericsson has lost its "king of the vendors" crown to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. -- over the whole of 2013 Ericsson racked up just shy of $35 billion in sales, while its Chinese rival generated nearly $40 billion.
Elsewhere on the Nordic front, Swedish operator Telia Company fell short of some analysts' expectations with its fourth-quarter financials, reports Reuters. EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) dropped to SEK8.73 billion ($1.34 billion) from SEK9.0 billion ($1.38 billion) a year ago, as close-to-home markets failed to keep up with growth in TeliaSonera's more distant units in Eurasia and elsewhere.
UK satellite broadcaster Sky saw half-year pre-tax profits fall 18% to £527 million ($869 million) as it dug deep in its coffers to secure a three-year deal to show Premier League soccer matches in the face of fierce competition from BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), reports The Guardian. BT has been flexing its considerable financial muscle to grab a slice of the paid-for sports content action, which BSkyB has more or less dominated in recent years.
Norwegian group Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) has been awarded a mobile license in Myanmar, covering spectrum in the 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands and valid for 15 years. Also formally accepting a license is Middle Eastern operator Ooredoo -- see happy snap below. Myanmar has a population of 60 million, fewer than a tenth of which currently have access to mobile services. (See Telenor Awarded License in Myanmar and Myanmar Spectrum Stampede Underway.)
His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani (wow!), Ooredoo Group chairman, formally accepts an operating license on behalf of Ooredoo Myanmar from Khin Maung Thet (left), director general of PTD. Lovin' the curtains...
The UK's Office of Fair Trading is going after purveyors of mobile gaming apps that promote in-app purchases to the young and/or the gullible, reports the BBC. The move comes in the wake of disquiet over "bill shock" experienced by many parents of children who had been persuaded to splash out mum and dad's hard-earned cash on "power-ups" and "in-game currency." Whatever they are.