Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: MTS sees Q1 revenues decline; Sky extends A+E content deal; Orange widens accelerator program.
Vodafone Malta is to merge with Melita, a local cable operator, in a deal that will give current shareholders of Melita 51% of the company, with Vodafone Europe owning the remainder. On completion, Vodafone will pocket an estimated cash payment of €120 million (US$134 million), while Melita's shareholders will receive around €33 million ($37 million). On paper it seems a good match: Vodafone's 4G network covers 99% of the population, while Melita's cable network covers 99% of Maltese households. The combined company will operate under the Vodafone brand. (See Vodafone Malta to Merge With Cable Operator.)
Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) saw first-quarter revenues fall 1.1% year-on-year to 104.7 billion Russian roubles ($1.85 billion), a decline the company partly attributes to the fact that the previous quarter fell in a leap year. Operating profit, however, inched up 0.4%, to RUB21.7 billion ($384 million). Year-on-year, the operator's overall number of mobile subscribers rose 1.7%, to 108.8 million, though quarter-on quarter they actually fell by 1%. (See Russia's MTS to 'Sacrifice' Connectivity in Software Rebirth.)
Sky has extended its distribution agreement with media company A+E Networks, creators of the History Channel and landmark shows such as, erm, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, among other things. Sky will continue to bring A+E fare to its 22.4 million customers across the UK, Italy, Germany and Austria.
Orange (NYSE: FTE) has extended its tech startup accelerator program, Orange Fab, to cover Belgium and Luxembourg. Startups chosen for the program, which must have a currently commercialized product or service to show, will receive three months of tailored support.
Viaccess-Orca , the France-based content delivery specialist, has acquired Squadeo, a provider of secure cross-platform OTT video software for the TV industry. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year Viaccess-Orca snapped up BigHill, a Finnish software company that develops mobile TV applications. (See Viaccess-Orca Snaps Up Squadeo.)
Sweden's Telia is warning that it may be no longer able to offer Discovery's channels to its TV customers if an ongoing dispute with the European broadcaster SBS, which sells channel packages to the operator, is not resolved by June 7, when the current agreement expires. Should the companies fail to reach an agreement, Telia will provide customers with HBO Nordic's replacement channels.
Meanwhile, in Lithuania, Telia has invested further in LTE-Advanced Pro network gear, having previously depoyed it in the capital Vilnius in Feb. 2016. Now it has installed the technology, which enables mobile broadband speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s, at base stations in the country's other major urban areas -- Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Panevėžys. The operator says its deployment includes the use of carrier aggregation (three or four bands combined), 4x4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas and 256 QAM modulation.
Full-year sales rose 4% at Dixons Carphone , the UK-based mobile phone retailer, the BBC reports. Its trading update pointed to particularly strong growth in southern Europe, with its Kotsovolos chain in Greece leading the way. The retailer now expects its annual pre-tax profits to be in the region of £485 million ($629 million) to £490 million ($635.4 million).