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Eurobites: Virgin Media Ponders Mobile Bid – Report

Iain Morris
7/29/2019

In today's EMEA regional roundup: Virgin Media considers UK mobile options; management changes at Vodafone Romania; and Euskaltel results.

  • Liberty Global is reportedly assessing its mobile strategy in the UK telecom market after securing regulatory approval for the sale of European cable assets to Vodafone. In an interview with the UK's Financial Times newspaper (subscription required), Lutz Schüler, the CEO of Liberty's Virgin Media UK subsidiary, said his business could look to realize major cost savings from a mobile takeover or continue to buy network services from another mobile operator. Sounding wary of the investments needed to build a 5G network, Schüler said the operator may have a "big cheque to offer" one of the existing mobile networks if it decides to carry on as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Virgin Media last week announced plans to extend "gigabit-speed" cable broadband services to about 15 million UK homes in the next two years, putting pressure on telecom incumbent BT, and its mobile strategy could be increasingly important as customers turn to bundles of fixed and wireless services. As an MVNO, Virgin currently relies on the network of EE, the mobile operator that BT acquired in a £12.5 billion (US$15.4 billion at today's exchange rate) deal in 2016. (See Eurobites: Virgin Media Raises Gigabit Stakes in UK.)

  • Vodafone Romania is making executive changes following the approval of the Vodafone-Liberty Global deal, which will lead to a merger with Liberty's UPC Romania subsidiary, according to press reports. Mihnea Rădulescu, the current CEO of UPC Romania, will become the director of Vodafone's business unit, reporting directly to Vodafone Romania CEO Murielle Lorilloux, reports Ziarul Financiar. The consumer business will continue to be led by Mostafa El Beltagy, who took up that role last year after working in various roles for Vodafone subsidiaries or affiliates in Africa.

  • Spanish regional operator Euskaltel has reported a 22.5% drop in net profit for the second quarter, to €11 million ($12.2 million), compared with the year earlier-period, with revenues down about 1%, to €171.1 million ($190 million). The company, which operates networks in the Basque region and other northern parts of Spain, is trying to simplify its structure and reduce costs under new CEO José Miguel García, who took charge of the business last month. Euskaltel provides a range of fixed and mobile services, functioning as an MVNO on infrastructure owned by Orange, one of Spain's largest service providers. It picked up 4,000 new customers in the second quarter across its various services after losing 10,000 in the preceding three months, attributing the turnaround to network expansion efforts.

    — Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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