Eurobites: Iliad Chairman On the Hook for Insider Trading
News Analysis Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe 3/29/2019
Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice France guides for growth; Ericsson's Ekholm has a dig over spectrum sales; CityFibre heads for the Highlands.
The chairman of French operator Iliad, Maxime Lombardini, faces a €1 million (US$1.12 million) fine for insider trading related to Iliad's takeover bid for T-Mobile US in 2014. As Independent.ie reports, regulators claim Lombardini sold Iliad shares just weeks before the $15 billion takeover bid. Iiad and Lombardini are contesting the case, which they consider to be unfounded. (See Italian stallion, French flop: Iliad's talk of asset sales should worry Europe.)
Altice France is guiding for revenue growth of between 3% and 5% year-on-year and an adjusted EBITDA of between €4 billion ($4.5 billion) and €4.1 billion ($4.6 billion) in 2019, despite a 15.6% year-on-year drop in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018. The operator says it won back more than 1.3 million customers in 2018, more than the customers lost over the last three years since the acquisition of SFR. The Altice Europe group as a whole reported an "improving" revenue trend, down 1.7% year-on-year in Q4, compared to 6.3% slide in Q3.
Ericsson boss Börje Ekholm used his company's annual general meeting to take a dig at the way 5G spectrum is being distributed in Europe. In a statement, he said: "The process for spectrum allocation in Europe is often aimed at maximizing the revenues from licenses. Instead, the process should focus on the value created by a digitalized society and how that contributes to the overall competitiveness of a country." Ekhlom also took the opportunity to brag that Ericsson has already shipped more than 3 million 5G-ready radios to its customers worldwide.
UK altnet CityFibre is to construct a new full-fiber network in the Scottish Highlands region, linking up more than 150 public sector sites such as schools, libraries, offices, hospitals, health centers and university campuses across Inverness, Fort William, Thurso and Wick. The partly state-funded project forms part of a £9.5 million ($12.4 million) Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) program being overseen by Capita. (See Eurobites: CityFibre Secures £1.12B for Fiber Rollout.)
In the latest Danish spectrum auction, Telia has secured frequencies in the 700MHz and 900MHz bands, paying 107.6 million Danish kroner ($16.1 million) for two 700MHz blocks. (There was no upfront cost for its two blocks in the 900MHz block, but there is a rollout commitment.) The licenses are valid for 20 years for the 700MHz band and 15 years for the 900MHz band.
The head of Drillisch, the German fixed and wireless service challenger that is hoping to become the country's fourth mobile operator, has told Reuters that he would be prepared to axe its shareholders' dividend to ensure it has the money to fund its transition from mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) to fully fledged wireless player. (See Germany to Get 'Strong Fourth Player' With UI's Drillisch Takeover.)
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading
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