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Eurobites: Will Telenor Bail Out of the Balkans?

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Telekom considers splitting T-Systems; Arcep opens its 5G window; Tele Columbus goes with Netcracker for billing.

  • Norway-based operator Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is planning to sell the Balkan portion of its operations, according to a report on EUScoop. The €2 billion (US$2.45 billion) sale, if it goes ahead, would encompass subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, says the report, which also suggests American investment firm KKR as a possible buyer. Telenor has so far refused to comment on the speculation.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) may split its T-Systems International GmbH enterprise services subsidiary into two separate units, according to a Reuters report citing German newspaper Handlesblatt. One unit would deal with "traditional" IT outsourcing, while the other would be focused on the rest of the business. The new plan is thought to be the brainchild of Adel Al-Saleh, who took over from Reinhard Clemens as head of T-Systems earlier this month.

  • French telecom regulator Arcep has opened up what it calls a "5G pilot window," to encourage operators and others to carry out trials related to the new technology. Arcep will issue temporary frequency authorizations to help develop 5G pilots, in the 3400-3800MHz band and in the 26GHz band.

  • Tele Columbus AG , Germany's third-largest cable operator with 2.4 million subscribers, has gone with Netcracker Technology Corp. for its billing needs. It will use the vendor's Revenue Management offering across the entire group.

  • French pay-TV operator Canal+ has chosen Nagra 's content protection software for its 4K Ultra HD service in France, via satellite and over-the-top using the operator's G9 set-top box.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has told labor unions that they must agree a deal on proposed job cuts by March 6 or it will implement the state-sponsored temporary lay-off program. As Reuters reports, the incumbent telco is looking to cut up to 7,500 jobs. Telecom Italia has been going through turbulent times of late, with French conglomerate Vivendi effectively taking control of its operations. (See Telecom Italia Drama: What Is Vivendi Up To? and Vivendi Man Genish Formally Named Telecom Italia CEO.)

  • New research from Belgium's BICS has revealed that there was a 600-800% increase in LTE data roaming traffic in the European Union during the summer of 2017 compared with the same period a year earlier, a rise mainly attributable to the removal of roaming charges within the EU. However, BICS reckons that around 20% of EU subscribers have still not taken advantage of the new arrangements, and, with that figure in mind, believes that there will be an even greater increase in LTE roaming traffic within the EU in 2018. Global LTE traffic more than doubled in 2017, and is set to do so again in 2018, adds the report.

  • The European Commission has approved Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s acquisition of NXP Semiconductors N.V. (Nasdaq: NXPI), conditional on Qualcomm fulfilling the commitments it made on the deal to satisfy regulators. These commitments included a pledge to offer licenses to NXP's MIFARE technology and trademarks for an eight-year period, and a guarantee that it would provide the same level of interoperability between its own baseband chipset and the NFC and SE products it acquires from NXP with the corresponding products of other companies, again for an eight-year period. (See Qualcomm Makes $39B Bet on NXP.)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has failed in its bid to persuade the High Court to allow it to use an alternative method of calculating the pension payments of past and present employees. The UK incumbent had wanted to move away from using the Retail Prices Index -- a measure of inflation based on prices found in a notional shopping basket -- as a basis for its pension scheme payments to its Section C members, to another, presumably less generous, index. BT's pension scheme has been a drag on its balance sheet for years.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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