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Eurobites: Orange's Richard found guilty in Tapie case

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telenor divests Open Universe, FTTH assets; Vivendi has no plans to exit TIM; ADVA recommends Adtran bid to shareholders.

  • Orange CEO and Chairman Stephane Richard has been handed a one-year suspended jail sentence by a French court after it found him guilty of "complicity in the misuse of public funds" in a fraud case that dates back to 2008. Richard was accused of helping businessman Bernard Tapie cheat the French government out of around €403 million (US$455 million). France's finance minister has previously said that Richard will have to resign if convicted, even if he does not go to jail. Richard said in a statement that he rejected the decision and intends to appeal. A board meeting will take place at Orange later today which will no doubt reveal what the future holds for Richard at the company. (See Eurobites: Orange's Richard Braced for Fraud Case Verdict.)

  • Telenor has agreed to sell Open Universe and FTTH assets in the single dwelling unit (SDU) sector to Global Connect for 3 billion Swedish kronor ($329 million). The deal includes approximately 200,000 connected homes on the Open Universe platform and 14,000 connected homes in Telenor Sweden's SDU fiber infrastructure. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2022.

  • French media giant Vivendi says it has no plans to sell its 24% stake in Telecom Italia (TIM), possibly making life difficult for KKR, the private equity group that has made a €10.8 billion (US$12 billion) takeover bid for TIM. As Reuters reports, Vivendi has poured cold water on the KKR bid, saying it is too low. (See Telecom Italia faces $12.2B privatization bid from KKR.)

  • Germany's ADVA has recommended its shareholders accept the (approximately) $930 million takeover bid from Adtran, which the American firm put on the table over the summer. The companies believe that a combined entity, bearing the Adtran name, would put them in a strong position to take advantage of the current thirst for fiber in both Europe and the US. (See Adtran, ADVA to pursue merger amid fiber upswing.)

  • Ericsson and Orange Business Services are to work with steelmaker ArcelorMittal France on a private-network initiative called 5G Steel, which will test 4G/5G connectivity's potential to bring greater efficiency and safety to ArcelorMittal's industrial sites in France over the next three years. Remote maintenance and autonomous vehicles are two of the projects that the initiative intends to cover.

  • Earnings at Irish operator Eir remained stable in the third quarter, at €142 million ($159 million), on revenue that rose 1% year-on-year, to €302 million ($338 million). A program of cost-cutting in its day-to-day operations was partly offset by costs associated with the acquisition of Evros, an IT services company. Eir's fiber base increased by 5%, to 823,000 customers, while postpaid mobile was up 10% to 869,000 customers.

  • UK altnet CityFibre has named Lincoln as the next place in line for the full-fiber treatment. The company plans to invest £21 million ($28 million) in a new city-wide network, with construction starting in March 2022.

  • TalkTalk claims its new fiber broadband offering provides the best-value gigabit package of all major UK providers. Its "Future Fibre 1Gb and Total Home Wi-Fi" product incorporates Amazon Eero's Pro 6 mesh Wi-Fi system, which it claims eliminates Wi-Fi dead spots within the home.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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