Broadband services

Eurobites: EU Gives Vivendi OK on Telecom Italia Takeover

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cevian Capital takes 5% stake in Ericsson; unions unhappy about BT's pension cap plan; EU offers cash for public WiFi; London's tube passengers to get a signal.

  • The European Commission has approved Vivendi taking de facto control of Telecom Italia (TIM) , subject to the French media conglomerate divesting Telecom Italia's stake in Persidera. Earlier this month Vivendi, which has a 24% stake in Telecom Italia, tightened its grip on the operator by appointing ten directors out of 15 to the board of the Italian company, and it filed a pre-emptive notification to the Commission that it could take de facto control once these appointments had been approved. (See Eurobites: Vivendi Tightens Its Grip on Telecom Italia and Vivendi CEO Eyes Chairman Job at Telecom Italia.)

  • Investment firm Cevian Capital has taken a 5% stake in Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Reuters reports, saying that it sees "significant potential" for Ericsson under its new leadership, despite the Swedish vendor's recent tribulations. Börje Ekholm took over as CEO at Ericsson in January, following the sacking of Hans Vestberg in the summer after a sequence of disappointing results. (See Ericsson's Ekholm Trumpets 5G Role But Still Lacks Plan and Eurobites: Ekholm Takes the Reins at Ericsson.)

  • Labor unions are threatening strike action following BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s announcement that it planned to close its final-salary pension scheme in a bid to cut costs. As the Daily Telegraph reports, although the pension scheme was closed to new entrants in 2001, its more than 300,000 members still continue to build up benefits under the terms of the scheme, and it is this perk that BT wants to close the lid on. BT's pension deficit has been a ballooning boil on the bum for the operator in recent years, reaching £9.5 billion ($11.6 billion) in October 2016.

  • On a brighter note, BT has landed a cloud services deal with tire manufacturer Bridgestone Europe. BT's One Cloud Cisco will be used to connect Bridgestone's 150 retail outlets and 50-odd offices across 20 countries in the EMEA region.

  • European Union legislators have agreed to find the funding for a program that will see free public WiFi being made available in towns and villages across the EU that have limited Internet connectivity. An overall amount of €120 million will be assigned to the program, with grants being dished out on a first-come-first-served basis.

  • And still in the world of public WiFi, the Financial Times reports (subscription required) that the London Underground train network is set to finally get proper mobile coverage, allowing passengers to get a signal on trains, rather than just on the station concourses. One of the potential frontrunners for the contract is thought to be BAI, an Australian company that funded the installation of a similar network in New York.

  • The Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) in Poland has opted for ADVA Optical Networking 's FSP 3000 CloudConnect data center interconnect offering to power its Pionier network. The 400G technology will allow boffins in Poznan and Warsaw to share massive data sets.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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