Eurobites: European Commission Takes Closer Look at Thales/Gemalto Deal

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Facebook spreads its wings in London; Proximus not happy about prospect of fourth Belgian mobile operator; BT consults on transfer of staff to Openreach.

  • The European Commission has opened an investigation into the proposed acquisition of Dutch hardware security company Gemalto by Thales SA (Paris: TCFP.PA), the French defense giant. According to the Commission, the $5.6 billion deal would create by far the largest player in the market for hardware security modules (HSMs) and, as such, could create an overly dominant entity at both the European and global level, possibly leading to higher prices and less innovation. The Commission now has 90 working days in which to make a decision on the deal. Thales outbid Atos for Gemalto after Atos's unsolicited $5.1 billion bid failed to win Gemalto's approval. (See Eurobites: Thales Outdoes Atos With $5.6B Bid for Gemalto and Atos Bids €4.3B for Gemalto to Create Security, IoT Giant.)

  • Facebook is doubling its office space in London, acquiring 600,000 square feet of office space in the Kings Cross area of the capital, the once seedy district that has been the subject of extensive regeneration activity since the 1990s. According to Reuters, this will provide enough space for 6,000 workstations. Yes, yes -- but what's that in terms of ping-pong tables and in-house pastry chefs?

  • Belgian incumbent Proximus isn't happy that its federal government has opened up its 2019 spectrum auctions to a fourth mobile operator. "This will indeed reduce prices for the consumer in the short term, but will also immediately affect the quality of the network and the profitability of the sector," says the operator, grumpily.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has started the formal consultation process on the transfer of around 31,000 staff to the newly "legally separate" business that is Openreach , formerly BT's in-house network access unit. The transfer, which will be carried out under the TUPE laws that are intended to preserve workers' terms and conditions in such cases, is expected to happen on October 1, 2018. BT had to agree to splitting off Openreach after rivals complained that BT's ownership of Openreach gave it an unfair advantage in the UK broadband market. (See BT Agrees to Openreach Split.)

  • Sweden's Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has expanded its 4G partnership with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), the US operator, taking in a number of new (though unspecified) markets. The deployment is being presented as paving the way for the eventual arrival of 5G.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) is collaborating with DEKRA, the German road safety organization, to create a 5G testbed for "smart mobility" at its Lausitzring test- and race-track. Covering an area equivalent to more than 700 soccer pitches, Lausitzring is described by DT as Europe's largest independent test area for connected and automated driving.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has appointed Christoph Aeschlimann head of its IT, Network & Infrastructure Group and a member of the operator's executive board, succeeding Heinz Herren as of February 1, 2019. Aeschlimann is currently the CEO of ERNI, an international software engineering company. After he steps down, Herren will focus on "strategic projects" on behalf of CEO Urs Schaeppi.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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