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Eurobites: Moody's Downgrades Telefónica

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice fined for jumping the acquisition gun; du pairs up with MediaTek for IoT; UK Information Commissioner puts brakes on Facebook's WhatsApp data-gathering.

  • Telefónica 's decision to cut dividend payments this year and the next in an effort to combat its debt issue has not been enough to preserve its credit rating with Moody's Investors Service , which has downgraded the Spanish giant's rating to Baa3 from Baa2. In a statement, Moody's lead analyst said: "While its dividend reduction is a step in the right direction as it will preserve cash and help to progressively reduce debt, this change in strategy will delay its efforts to de-lever by December 2017." (See Telefónica Cuts Payouts to Combat Debt.)

  • Altice has been fined €80 million (US$88.3 million) by the French Competition Authority for "gun-jumping" misdemeanors related to its acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile in 2014. The France-based operator has accepted the fine, but claims that its actions were only intended to "make the new entity operational as soon as possible," and were "performed in good faith." (See Eurobites: Altice Can't Have All of SFR and Eurobites: Numericable Wins SFR M&A Tussle.)

  • Middle East operator Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) has announced an Internet of Things (IoT) collaboration with MediaTek Inc. (Taiwan: 2454), the fabless semiconductor and SoC vendor. The partnership offers hardware and software that is intended to drive growth in smart cities, wearables and other IoT verticals.

  • Sad news from French telecom regulator Arcep , which reports the death of Françoise Laforge, its deputy director of European and International Affairs. Françoise had been with ARCEP since its inception, nearly 20 years ago.

  • Following a request from the UK's Information Commissioner, Facebook has agreed to temporarily stop harvesting personal data from users of its WhatsApp messaging service for advertising or "product improvement" purposes. The Commissioner has also asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking that commits them to explaining more clearly to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users "ongoing control" over that information.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has published a report documenting "best practices" for smart cities. "The Smart City Playbook," compiled by Machina Research, examines the strategies of 22 cities around the world that have taken steps towards smart city status. EMEA-wise, cities covered included Barcelona, Berlin, Bristol, Dubai and Vienna. (See Smart Cities: Power to the People.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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