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Eurobites: Comcast Formalizes £22B Sky Bid

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Apple starts paying Irish back-taxes; Nokia gets edgy; Atos hooks up with Google for AI; Elisa trumpets NB-IoT network.

  • US cable giant Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has made a formal £22 billion ($31 billion) offer for UK-based Sky, arguing the pay-TV business will be its "platform for growth across Europe." Comcast executives had already made the case for a takeover earlier this year, telling analysts that Sky would bring scale, valuable content, international diversification and technological wizardry (through its Q video platform and Now TV over-the-top service). However, the formal bid puts the company in competition with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, whose 21st Century Fox business wants to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own. Comcast's offer comes at a 16% premium to that of 21st Century Fox and threatens to start a bidding war for the Sky assets. Seeking to allay concern about the impact of the deal on the UK media market, Comcast today promised to maintain annual expenditure in Sky News for ten years at the 2017 level. It also said it would keep the Sky headquarters in the UK town of Osterley and refrain from acquiring a majority interest in any UK newspapers for at least five years. (See Why Sky's the Limit for Comcast.)

  • Apple is to finally begin paying €13 billion ($15.8 billion) in what the European Commission ruled are unpaid taxes to the Irish government from the second quarter of 2018, the Guardian reports. The money will transferred in a series of payments and placed into an escrow account, where it will be held until the outcome of a joint appeal -- by Apple and the Irish government -- against the 2016 EU ruling is known. Both Apple and the Irish government maintain that there was nothing unlawful about the tech giant's tax treatment. (See Eurobites: Don't Pick On Apple, Says Irish Telecom Tycoon, Eurobites: Irish Cabinet Decides on Apple Tax Tactics and Eurobites: EC to Charge Apple With Illegal Tax Deals in Ireland.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has unveiled its AirFrame Open Edge server, which the vendor says will be able to process data closer to users and provide ultra-low latency support for time-critical applications such as industrial automation, augmented reality and Cloud RAN.

    Slot heaven: Nokia's AirFrame Open Edge server
    Slot heaven: Nokia's AirFrame Open Edge server

  • Atos Origin S.A. , the French IT services company, has done a deal with Google to use the search behemoth's technology to offer artificial intelligence (AI) services to its customers in sectors such as insurance and healthcare. As Reuters reports, Atos also plans to open R&D centers in France, the UK and the US over the next three months to work on "transformation projects."

  • Elisa Corp. claims it's the first operator in Finland to have a national network ready for NB-IoT, with the technology available to every Finnish municipality. The network has actually been in use since October, being tested by Envevo, a waste management company.

  • There were no fireworks in Telekom Austria Group 's first-quarter results: Total group revenues increased 1.2% year-on-year to €1.07 billion ($1.3 billion), while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) inched up 0.2% to €341.5 million ($416 million). What growth there was, says the operator, was mostly driven by an increase in equipment revenues and service revenues, "with the latter growing in all markets except for Slovenia."

  • Comarch SA , the Polish OSS specialist, has teamed up with Arqiva as part of a long-term plan to roll out "next generation" smart meters in the UK. The pair have agreed to work together for 15 years to make smart metering even smarter, using Comarch's OSS platform to help automate the provision of services to customers.

  • Vincent Bollore, the former chairman of French media conglomerate Vivendi , has been detained by French police as they investigate allegations that one of his companies effectively bribed African officials to secure port operating concessions. For more details, see this story on our sister site, Connecting Africa.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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