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Eurobites: There may be (more) COVID-19 trouble ahead...

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Telekom teams up with WatchGuard for enterprise security; Sparkle PoPs up in Casablanca; why the lockdown suits Spotify.

  • As the results season gets into full, er, swing, the message emanating from European operators is becoming a familiar one: COVID-19 came too late to make much of an impression on their first quarter, but they fear that subsequent quarters may be an altogether different story. That's the case at Belgium's Proximus, where domestic underlying Q1 revenue decreased by 1% year on year, while the equivalent EBITDA figure remained stable at €428 million (US$465.5 million). Guillame Boutin, Proximus CEO, admitted in a statement: "The financial impact on our business has remained limited so far, with the effects only materializing during the second half of March … It's clear we are not fully immune to the ongoing COVID crisis, and we expect the impact to become more apparent over the next quarter. The economic recovery remains uncertain and especially Roaming and ICT projects are exposed to further negative effects."

  • Across the border, in the Netherlands, KPN saw adjusted first-quarter revenues decline 2.4% year on year, with growth in its wholesale and business services being offset by lower revenues from its KPN Consulting division and continued pressure on fixed voice and mobile services. Adjusted EBITDA after leases increased 2.1%, with the effect of lower revenues being more than offset by opex savings. Here's CEO Joost Farwerck: "From a business perspective, COVID-19 has had a limited impact on our operational KPIs and financial results in the first quarter … Looking ahead, it is clear that risks to our outlook have increased due to the COVID-19 situation. The Dutch economy is expected to move towards a recession. However, it is as of yet premature to estimate the duration of this situation through the remainder of 2020, as well as how it will impact our customers and KPN for 2020."

  • Further south, Swisscom reports first-quarter group revenue down 4.3% year on year, mainly attributable to trouble on its highly competitive home turf: In Italy, its Fastweb subsidiary is going great guns, revenue-wise, up 5.6%. And as for the coronavirus effect? CEO Urs Schaeppi says: "COVID-19 is creating many uncertainties and will continue to shape our financial year." However, Swisscom's financial outlook remains unchanged.

  • Deutsche Telekom has teamed up with network security firm WatchGuard Technologies to launch Business Network Protect (BNP) Complete, a mouthful it describes as an "enterprise-grade security solution" for small and midsized businesses.

  • Sparkle, the international services arm of Telecom Italia, has opened a new point of presence in Casablanca, Morocco, located at the Orange Maroc open data center. Of all the data centers in all the world…

  • UKCloud, the multicloud specialist focused on the needs of British public sector organizations, has deepened its embrace with virtualization outfit VMware, achieving VMware Cloud Verified status and launching various VMware-based tools which could help the public sector get fully on board with remote working.

  • For Spotify, the Sweden-based streaming music company, the coronavirus pandemic has had its bright side, playing its part in bringing a 31% year-on-year jump in monthly active users (MAUs) and a 22% growth in Q1 revenue, to €1.84 billion ($2 billion) as housebound music fans hit the play button. However, revenues from the ad-supported version of its service fell short of Spotify's own forecast, as previously booked advertising was pulled in the face of COVID-19 carnage.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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