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Eurobites: Orange Seals Bank Acquisition Deal

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Viva Bahrain deploys Huawei's triple-beam technology; Telia in Nepalese tax tussle; Telenor seeks ideas in its own backyard.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has followed through on its plan to enter the European banking market by agreeing to acquire a 65% stake in Groupama Banque, which will be renamed Orange Bank and begin offering a range of banking services in France in 2017, with potential launches in Belgium and Spain at a later date. The operator says its research shows that a third of its customers have expressed an interest in opening a bank account with it. Orange expects to complete the deal in the third quarter of 2016. Groupama Banque had more than half a million customers at the end of 2015, with deposits of more than €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion). (See Orange to Buy 65% Stake in Groupama Banque and Orange Claims Customer Interest in Bank Move.)

  • VIVA Bahrain has implemented Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's so-called "9-sector solution," which uses triple-beam antenna technology to improve the LTE network's capacity and thereby reduce the need to build new tower sites.

  • Sweden's Telia Company has sought to clarify reports in a Swedish daily newspaper that it was being hounded by tax authorities in Nepal following its recent divestment of its stake in Ncell, the Nepalese operator. In a statement, Telia says that it received a letter from the authorities asking it to submit a tax return regarding the divestment of shares, but that it believes such a return should not be filed as the transaction is not subject to tax in Nepal. (See TeliaSonera Sells Ncell Stake to Axiata.)

  • Nordic operator Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is hoping to turn those "napkin ideas" into hard cash with the launch of its "intrapreneur program," which seeks to uncover marketable ideas for new products and services from amongst its own employees. Successful applicants will get the chance to develop their idea into a testable prototype.

  • Tigo Tanzania is claiming to be the fastest-growing operator in the country, growing by 2.5 million customers in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to figures released by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. This growth has moved it into second place in the Tanzanian pecking order, above Airtel but behind Vodacom Tanzania Ltd.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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