Eurobites: ECI Unveils IPO Plans

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica reboots its startup incubator; Inmarsat strikes in-flight WiFi deal with Panasonic; UK considers Internet regulator.

  • Israeli optical equipment vendor ECI Telecom Ltd. has, as expected, filed papers for an IPO on the London Stock Exchange that would raise $230 million from the issue of new stock, while the current owner, Shaul Shani's Swarth Group, might sell some existing stock. The move would enable the company to repay some of its debts and "further increase the Group's profile, brand recognition and credibility," and value to company at about $600 million, according to Globes. The company, which recently struck a 5G transport partnership with Ericsson, is having a growth spurt currently: Revenues for the first half of the year hit almost $198 million, up by 24% from the same period a year earlier, while its operating profit came in at $11.2 million for the six-month period compared with a $5.1 million operating loss a year earlier. "I'm delighted for ECI to be taking this important next step in its journey," said CEO Darryl Edwards in the company's registration documents. "It's a real positive testament to the strategic decisions and investments that we have made in new products and technologies that will now fuel our growth and place us in a leadership position in 5G Integrated Transport Solutions." (See Ericsson Links 5G Hands With Juniper & ECI, Snubs Cisco & Ciena, 5G Is Shifting the Packet/Optical Tectonic Plates and ECI Reportedly Planning a London IPO.)

  • Telefónica is "reinventing" its startup accelerator program, Wayra, so that it focuses on more mature companies that have a clear business plan. It also plans to give more preference to those startups whose activities align more with the operator's particular areas of interest, namely big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cybersecurity and fintech. Wayra began life in 2011, and since then Telefónica has, through the program, invested in more than €160 million ($188 million) in various ventures. (See Inside Telefonica's Startup Incubator.)

  • UK-based satellite firm Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) has signed a ten-year agreement with Japan's Panasonic Avionics to provide in-flight broadband to commercial airlines using the Ka-band signal. As Reuters reports, Inmarsat will become Panasonic exclusive connectivity provider under the terms of the deal.

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  • The UK government is considering the creation of a new regulator dedicated to policing the Internet, according to a report on Buzzfeed News. The proposed body would be similar to Ofcom -- which currently regulates the telecom, broadcast and postal industries -- but would have the authority to impose sanctions on social media platforms that fail to promptly remove terrorist content or images of child abuse.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Madley satellite earth station in the English Midlands. The inaugural signal was transmitted from Madley's Aerial 1 dish in the fall of 1978, initially enabling more than 2,000 simultaneous calls to 34 countries in the Middle East and Africa in less than a second, via the Intelsat satellite.

    BT's Madley satellite earth station: 40 years old and still dishy
    BT's Madley satellite earth station: 40 years old and still dishy

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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