Eurobites: TIM-KKR deal gets EU green light

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone completes sale of Spanish unit; Orange converges in Romania; Belgian state takes control of Proximus.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

May 31, 2024

3 Min Read
European Union flags in front of the headquarters of the European commission in Brussels
(Source: Joris Van Ostaeyen/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • The European Commission has unconditionally approved the sale of Telecom Italia's fixed-line network – or NetCo, as it is referred to in this context – to US investment firm KKR, concluding after the usual scrutiny process that the deal does not raise competition concerns within the EU. Specifically, Brussels found that KKR would not have the ability to restrict access to "passive" infrastructure, nor would the deal increase the likelihood of collusion between NetCo and OpenFiber, its longstanding competitor. The Commission also decided that a master services agreement struck between KKR and Telecom Italia is not an integral part of the transaction and therefore does not fall under the scope of EU merger regulation.

  • Vodafone has completed the sale of its Spanish unit to Zegona Communications, for €5 billion (US$5.4 billion) in cash and shares. As part of the deal, Zegona will also pay Vodafone about €110 million ($117 million) each year for the provision of various services to Vodafone Spain, which retains the brand (for "up to" ten years) even though it is changing owner. The deal is just one part of CEO Margherita Della Valle's masterplan to exit unprofitable markets and focus on the good stuff.

  • Also completing is the merger between Orange's fixed and mobile units in Romania to create one – as hipster telecom terminology has it – "converged" operator. On completion, Orange Group will hold 80% of the share capital and the voting rights of the consolidated entity, while Romania's Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization will hold the remainder. According to Orange, the merger will bring "minimal changes" to the day-to-day use of Orange services, but will allow the operator to "remove barriers to full operational integration."

  • The Belgian state has taken a controlling stake in incumbent operator Proximus. It now holds 58.13% of voting rights in the company.

  • Nokia is claiming a world first with the launch of an esports event delivered over Wi-Fi technology. The grandly named Nokia Apex Legends Invitation Tournament will be a charity event featuring 20 teams of daylight-starved professional and amateur players worldwide, competing via the magic of Nokia's Beacon Wi-Fi gateway. Players will be expected to self-install the gateway in their homes to establish the Wi-Fi connection needed to access the "hide and seek" style game.

  • A London-based fintech company, Curve, is about to launch its own version of Apple Pay, which it claims could save banks millions of euros in transaction fees that are currently claimed by the US tech giant for use of its payment platform. According to City AM, Curve's service, once launched, will enable iPhone users to make contactless payments by double-clicking the device's side button. Technical details relating to Apple's near-field communication (NFC) technology are currently being addressed by Curve, added the report.

  • Sky, the UK-based purveyor of pay-TV and more, has done a deal with public broadcaster ITV that will see a number of lower-tier soccer matches being shown live on free-to-air TV at the same time as they are shown on Sky Sports. The deal takes effect from January 2025.

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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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