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Eurobites: Incoming Vodafone CEO Considers Towers Sell-Off, Cuts Jobs

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: MTS buys supersized data center; Colt gets frisky in Spain; VEON abandons tower sale.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) could be on the verge of a massive towers sell-off as it seeks to adjust its portfolio in the wake of recent M&A activity, according to a report in the Financial Times (subscription required). Nick Read, who takes over from Vittorio Colao as Vodafone CEO next month, told a Goldman Sachs conference that he is considering the sale of tens of thousands of mobile towers as part of a strategy to reduce its €31 billion debt pile. Read also said that the operator is planning to shed 1,700 jobs at contact centers in Egypt, India and Romania as "robots" are increasingly used to deal with routine enquiries. (See Sales Squeeze to Drive Heavier Cutbacks at Vodafone, What to Expect From Nick Read, Vodafone's Next CEO, Vodafone Pounces on Liberty Cable Assets in €18.4B Deal and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, TPG Telecom Agree Merger.)

  • Russia's Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) has bought what it says is one of the largest data centers in Russia, the Avantazh facility in Lytkarino, near Moscow. The data center is still being built, but when complete it will have room for 2,240 racks, using an area totalling 6,400 square meters across 16 halls. The acquisition forms part of MTS's strategy to increase its presence in the cloud services market. (See Russia's MTS to 'Sacrifice' Connectivity in Software Rebirth.)

  • UK-based Colt Technology Services Group Ltd is bolstering its coverage in Spain, adding 22 new provinces to its reach. The project, which builds on existing metro connectivity in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, is expected to be completed this month.

  • VEON has abandoned the sale of its tower business in Pakistan, Jazz, to Tanzanite Tower. According to a VEON statement, the parties involved had not received all the regulatory approvals and the extended deadline for such approvals has now passed.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is creating 200 new jobs at its campus in Dublin, Ireland, with around half of the roles on the software engineering team that is looking to develop new applications for innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence. As the Irish Times reports, the new jobs will bring Microsoft's total Dublin workforce to 2,200.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) says it has helped Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) achieve peak LTE speeds of up to 1.5 Gbit/s in a lab environment, using five-carrier aggregation technology. SingTel plans to gradually deploy such speeds across the island as more spectrum bands are allocated for the LTE network.

  • Russia's Ministry of Communications is considering the creation of a new system that will more accurately count cable operators' subscribers, Broadband TV News reports, citing Kommersant. As it stands, the reporting of such numbers is currently something of a free-for-all, with some operators tweaking the data depending on how it will be used, says the report.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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