Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson extends managed services deal with Liberty Global; Sky invests in startup discovery; Telia Norway calls time on 3G; BT lands NHS gig.
The European Commission has given the all-clear to Hutchison's acquisition of sole control of Italian operator Wind Tre. VEON agreed to sell its 50% stake in Wind Tre to joint owner CK Hutchison Holdings for €2.45 billion (US$2.87 billion) to help shrink its debt pile and strengthen its position in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Wind Tre was created in 2016 from the combination of the operations of VimpelCom's (now VEON) subsidiary WIND with those of Hutchison's subsidiary H3G, respectively the third- and fourth-largest operators in the Italian retail mobile market. (See VEON Sells Wind Tre Stake for €2.45B.)
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has landed an extension to its managed services contract with Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), building on the existing arrangement for mobile networks and fixed field services in Poland, Hungary and Austria to strike a new deal that includes Liberty Global's operations in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hungary and Germany. The cable giant hopes that Ericsson's efforts will improve the availability and stability of its networks. For its part, Ericsson says it will deploy the double A-bomb -- automation and AI -- to help Liberty Global reach the nirvana of "user experience-centric operations."
Sky , the UK-based pay-TV powerhouse, is diving deeper into the "incubation" business with the opening of a new startup-focused office in Berlin and a $4 million commitment to Israeli venture capital fund Remagine Ventures. Sky hopes that the Berlin office will enable its team there to build relationships with investors in the region and to sniff out the most promising entrepreneurs. Remagine Ventures is a newly launched fund based in Tel Aviv, managed by Kevin Baxpehler (a former investor at ProSiebenSat1.Media) and Eze Vidra (a former partner at Google Ventures Europe).
Telia Norway says it plans to start phasing out its 3G network from the end of 2018, the first of Telia Company 's group of companies to do so.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has landed a five-year contract with the UK's National Health Service (NHS), with a mandate to help various parts of the NHS transition smoothly to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) in the south-east of England. The hope is that the deal will help medical teams in the region be better able to support patients' needs by taking advantage of cloud-based IT services accessed over high-speed Ethernet connections.
Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has struck up a partnership with ADAC, the German automobile association, with a view to jointly offering appropriate products and services to ADAC's members. From October, for example, drivers will be able to report a breakdown to ADAC using the CarConnect app, which automatically transmits the location of the stranded vehicle.
Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has agreed a four-year deal with Scottish broadcaster STV, which will see Virgin broadcasting STV in HD in all cable STV regions as well as the integration of the STV Player app and STV catch-up programming on Virgin set-top boxes for the first time.
According to a Daily Telegraph report, former Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) CEO and current Verizon Wireless bigwig Ronan Dunne used a recent trip to the UK to chat with BT about the possibility of him replacing Gavin Patterson as head of the UK incumbent. Setting the odds in these pages three months ago, Light Reading's in-house bookie, Iain Morris, only rated Dunne's chances of getting the BT CEO gig at 50:1. Maybe it's time for a quick adjustment on the Morris whiteboard… (See BT's Next CEO: The Candidates.)
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading