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Euronews: Belgacom Spy Plot Thickens

Also in today's EMEA roundup: Franco Bernabe resigns from Telecom Italia; Vodafone CFO steps down.

  • The Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG) cyber-attack mystery has taken another twist, reports The Guardian. Last month the operator revealed that its systems had been the victim of a massive security breach -- the sort that, it believed, could only have been perpetrated by a national intelligence agency. Now a European parliament committee investigating the mass security operations of the US National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ has summoned the director of the latter, Sir Iain Lobban, to appear before the committee, but he has refused to comply. Instead, the agency has sent a letter, via the UK ambassador to the European Commission , basically saying that national security is none of the Commission's business. Belgacom's BICS subsidiary operates subsea networks that reach from Europe into North Africa and the Middle East, both regions that are heavily associated with ongoing investigations into terrorism. (See Euronews: Who Hacked Belgacom?)

  • Franco Bernabe has, as widely predicted, resigned as executive chairman of Telecom Italia (TIM) and his responsibilities have been transferred -- on a temporary basis -- to Marco Patuano, the CEO and managing director. It is thought that a difference in opinion over long-term strategy lies behind Bernabe's decision. He leaves with a severance package worth €6.6 million (US$8.9 million) in total. (See Euronews: Telecom Italia Boss on the Brink.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s CFO of almost nine years' standing, Andy Halford, is to leave the company in March 2014, by which time the sale of its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless back to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) should have been completed. He will be replaced by Nick Read, who is currently CEO of the Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region. (See Vodafone Agrees to $130B Verizon Stake Sale.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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