Vivendi looking into sale of Maroc Telecom stake

Vivendi (Paris, France) is considering a sale of its controlling stake in Morocco’s largest telecoms operator, according to the Financial Times.

The French media conglomerate has reportedly hired Lazard and Crédit Agricole banks to look into the sale of its 53% stake in Maroc Telecom (Rabat, Morocco).

Such a divestment could raise as much as €4 billion for Vivendi, according to financiers cited by the FT.

Hutchison, EU set for talks on Orange Austria bid

Hutchison 3G (Hong Kong) is set to meet EU authorities on Wednesday this week to present the case for its planned takeover of Orange Austria, reports Reuters.

The mooted €1.3 billion acquisition has run into opposition from Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, who fears the merger will result in a poorer deal for Austrian telecoms consumers and higher wholesale rates for MVNOs.

Italy's Wind calls for mobile network sharing

Reuters

Italy's third-largest mobile phone company Wind (Rome, Italy) called for peers to share their frequencies and antennas to help roll out a superfast network.

"I believe there is awareness among all mobile operators that there is the need to place, into a specifically created company, frequencies and networks," Wind Chief Executive Maximo Ibarra said on the sidelines of an event in Capri on Friday.

"Competition will be on services," he said.

Qtel doubles stake in Kuwait's Wataniya

In one of the biggest telecoms deals of the year so far, Qtel (Doha, Qatar) has raised its stake in Wataniya (Kuwait City, Kuwait) from 52.5% to 92.1% for a fee of 519.1 million Kuwaiti dinars ($1.85 billion), hoping to boost the performance of Kuwait’s number-two operator.

Qtel, which has emerged as a major regional player over the last few years, says that increasing its stake in Wataniya represents a major step forwards in its ongoing expansion strategy.

Deutsche Telekom in T-Mobile USA-MetroPCS merger talks

Reuters

Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) is in talks to merge its T-Mobile USA (Bellevue, USA) unit with MetroPCS (Richardson, USA) and take a majority stake in the combined wireless service provider, the German company said on Tuesday.

Deutsche Telekom, which has been looking for a way to bolster its customer-losing U.S. business, cautioned in a regulatory filing that the transaction was not a done deal because key issues had not yet been finalized.

Ofcom solves UK's 4G dilemma

But was it good fortune or part of a grand plan?

Either Ofcom has been spectacularly serendipitous or it has played a canny game. The UK telecoms regulator this week said it would be able to release spectrum earmarked for ‘4G’ LTE services sooner than it had originally thought possible. The announcement will soothe the tempers of Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and O2 (London, UK) executives, who were infuriated by Ofcom’s earlier decision to give rival EE (London, UK) a 4G headstart using frequencies it already owns. But did the regulator plan it this way from the outset?

Clearwire witnessing shareholder exodus

US wireless broadband operator Clearwire (Bellevue, USA) may be witnessing a shareholder exodus, with cable operator Comcast (Philadelphia, USA) becoming the latest investor to sour on the stock.

Comcast has not sold its 6% stake in Clearwire, but it has converted the holding into commonly traded shares, prompting speculation it is on the verge of doing so.

The news comes just days after Time Warner (New York, USA) began selling its 7.8% stake in the business. Other investors, including web giant Google (Mountain View, USA), have also sold their Clearwire shares.

India court halts execution of government order banning 3G pacts

Reuters

An Indian court granted a stay on execution of a government order asking telecoms carriers to stop third-generation (3G) services outside their licensed areas through roaming pacts, after top carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd (New Delhi, India) challenged the decision.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the telecoms ministry to not take any "coercive action" until the next hearing of the case. It did not immediately set the next date of hearing.

T-Mobile USA in $2.4 billion tower deal with Crown Castle

Reuters

T-Mobile USA (Bellevue, USA) is selling the rights to operate 7,200 of its wireless broadcast towers for $2.4 billion to Crown Castle International Corp (Houston, USA) to help fund a network upgrade and reduce debt at its parent Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany).

Crown Castle has the option to pay another $2.4 billion to buy the towers outright from T-Mobile USA at the end of the lease term for each tower - between 2025 and 2048 - under the deal announced on Friday.

Softbank to acquire eAccess for $1.84 billion

Softbank (Tokyo, Japan) is to acquire aAccess (Tokyo, Japan), a smaller competitor, in a deal valued at $1.84 billion and designed to help it close the gap with its chief rivals, according to Reuters.

Under a share swap due to be completed in February, Japan’s third-biggest operator will pay 52,000 yen per eAccess share, a substantial premium given eAccess’s share price of 15,070 yen at the end of last week.

Answering analyst questions on the deal, Softbank said the launch of the iPhone 5 had provided the impetus for the takeover.

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