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Eurobites: Telefónica to Buy Pay-TV Player

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: GSMA man wants merging made easier; Vodafone, SFR renew enterprise collaboration; Deutsche Telekom enables mobile payments.

  • Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) has made a €725 million ($1 billion) bid for a controlling stake in Distribuidora de Television Digital (DTS), the pay-TV business of Spanish media group Prisa. Telefonica already owns 22% of the business, but is now looking for a further 56% slice of the action. Meanwhile, more detail has emerged about the package of concessions that the Spanish giant has made to the European Union competition authorities to ease the passage of its planned takeover of Germany's E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG , reports the Financial Times (subscription required). Telefónica's package of deal-sweeteners includes the offer of access to its urban WiFi network to a rival operator. (See Eurobites: Telefónica Sweetens E-Plus Deal.)

  • The GSM Association (GSMA) 's chief regulatory officer has issued a plea for European regulators to allow operators in the region to merge more easily, reports Bloomberg. Tom Phillips said that a lack of consolidation in the sector meant that there was too much "duplicate investment" in network infrastructure buildouts, adding that the single-telecom-market vision being espoused by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, wouldn't be enough to address the problem. (See Euronews: 'Single Market' Plan Rolls Into Action.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and SFR have renewed their enterprise-oriented collaboration in France for another four years, providing fixed and mobile services to multinationals as well as roaming services to consumers travelling into and out of the country. The two companies have had such an agreement since 2002.

  • The mobile payments bandwagon has gained another passenger with Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s launch of its MyWallet offering. The MyWallet app, which enables "contactless" payments and is currently compatible with 18 smartphone models, can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. For more details see this press release.

  • EU competition regulators have set themselves a deadline of June 20 to decide whether they will give the green or red light to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY)'s $1 billion bid for Telefónica's O2 Ireland mobile operator business, reports Reuters. Hutchison already operates its 3 Ireland mobile business in the Republic, so the proposed O2 deal is coming in for close scrutiny from Brussels.

  • Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), which now counts the UK's Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) among its growing stable of European cable companies, posted revenues up 70% year-on-year to $4.53 billion in the first quarter, reports Bloomberg. Liberty Global's CEO Mike Fries said that he still expects its acquisition of Dutch cable operator Ziggo B.V. to be completed in the second half of 2014. (See Euronews: Liberty Global Plans Pan-European MVNO.)

  • Both Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) and Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) managed to buck the general European trend by posting positive first-quarter financials. Norway's Telenor saw EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rise to 9.29 billion ($1.57 billion) Norwegian kroner from NOK8.42 billion ($1.42 billion) a year earlier, with the Indian subcontinent proving to be the main engine of growth. Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), meanwhile, saw the popularity of its bundled offerings help lift its EBITDA by 2.9% to 1.03 billion Swiss francs ($1.17 billion). (See Telenor Reports Q1 Growth and Swisscom Reports Q1 Growth.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • mendyk 5/7/2014 | 9:17:39 AM
    Que? U.S. telcos are heading in the opposite direction from Telefonica regarding "pay TV"  mainly because of rapidly diminishing margins. Is the competitive landscape in Spain that much different? The key factor in the U.S. is cost of programming.
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