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Eurobites: Vodafone turns down Iliad's offer to merge in Italy

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Sky to cut around 1,000 jobs in UK and Ireland; Russians switch off 4G to fend off Ukrainian drones; Kyivstar chooses Comarch; VMO2 renews Tesco Mobile joint venture.

Paul Rainford

January 31, 2024

4 Min Read
Iliad store in Italy.
(Source: Danny Nebraska/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Iliad says Vodafone rejected the French telecom company's offer to merge their respective units in Italy. The revised proposal issued in December would have seen Vodafone receive €6.6 billion (US$7.2 billion) and Iliad €400 million ($434 million) in cash. Both companies would have held a 50% stake in the new unit, but Iliad had scrapped a previously included call option that would have allowed it to gain a controlling stake at a later date. Vodafone has previously said it is considering options for its underperforming Italian unit, but it seems this one was not to its liking. It says discussions with other parties are ongoing. (See also: Iliad makes fresh bid to tempt Vodafone into an Italian merger.)

  • Sky, the purveyor of pay-TV and more, is planning to cut around 1,000 jobs at its UK and Ireland units this year, most of them engineer roles. As Sky News reports, the cuts have been largely prompted by the company's shift away from its satellite TV roots as it increasingly delivers its service over the Internet via its Sky Glass and Sky Stream platforms, a transition that has reduced the need for specialist skills to install the required hardware, such as a satellite dish and set-top box. (See Sky's 'Puck' streamer will soon be offered as a standalone product and Sky applies smartphone-like buy-and-swap model to new 'Sky Glass' TVs.)

  • In a separate move, Sky is next month launching a new, dedicated tennis channel, screening live action from more than 80 tournaments and year on the ATP and WTA tour circuits, as well as the US Open grand slam event. Non-Sky subscribers will be able to access it via the Now streaming service using a daily or monthly pass. The channel will also be available on Virgin Media and EE TV.

  • Electronic warfare systems being used by the Russian military to fend off Ukrainian drones are messing up Russia's mobile Internet, according to a Business Insider report citing Russian business daily Kommersant. Government authorities closed down 4G networks at night between January 25-30 in Leningrad, Novgorod, and Pskov in northwestern Russia to allow the anti-drone units to operate.

  • Within Ukraine itself, beleaguered operator Kyivstar has signed a software deal with Poland-based Comarch to help streamline field service maintenance activities – which are obviously at a premium right now as Russian shells continue to rain down on Ukraine's towns and cities.

  • Virgin Media O2 has renewed its 50:50 mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) joint venture with Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, for another ten years. Tesco Mobile, formed 20 years ago, is the UK's largest MVNO with more than 5.5 million customers.

  • Dutch incumbent operator KPN has delivered on its 2023 outlook with full-year adjusted EBITDAaL (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) up 0.6%, to €2.42 billion ($2.62 billion), on revenues that climbed 2.5% to €5.44 billion ($5.89 billion). Over the course of the year KPN passed an additional 725,000 homes with fiber, adding another 154,000 fiber customers, while postpaid mobile customers rose by 173,000. Looking ahead, KPN says it will invest more than €4.5 billion ($4.9 billion) in its networks over the next four years.

  • Belgium's BICS has launched a new cloud-based roaming service on AWS's global infrastructure. Through this migration, BICS says it can deliver roaming Internet that is up to five times faster than traditional mobile roaming services. The service is available to network operators – BICS is already working with SK Telecom  and Proximus on cloud roaming – and MVNOs.

  • BT has chosen Canada's Optiva to furnish it with an application server upgrade to help deliver whizzy and lucrative new services. The deal will include Optiva's Open AI framework which, says the vendor, will enable integration with new technologies such as blockchain and AI tools.

  • Allison Kirkby, who joins BT this week as its new CEO after a spell at Telia, is among a gaggle of corporate bigwigs anointed to act as advisers to the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, as part of his business council. As Sky News reports, the ruling Conservative Party hopes that getting the likes of Kirkby onside will help it in its bid to re-establish its credentials as the so-called "party of business." No sniggering at the back.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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