Telefonica tightens hold on Telecom Italia, avoids takeover bid


Spanish telecoms group Telefonica has struck a deal to gradually secure control of Telecom Italia and its lucrative South American business without having to launch a full takeover bid.

The multi-part 860 million euro ($1.2 billion) cash and shares deal secured on Tuesday will allow Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) to raise its stake in Telco, the holding company controlling about 22 percent of Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy), allowing Telco's other investors, Intesa Sanpaolo (Turin, Italy), Generali (Trieste, Italy) and Mediobanca (Milan, Italy) to eventually bow out.

Russia's Megafon in talks to start bank


Megafon, Russia's second-largest mobile phone company, may start up a bank to capitalize on growing interest among consumers in managing their finances on-the-go and to cross-sell services to existing customers.

Russian mobile operators, trying to boost profits in a maturing market, have been searching for avenues to earn more from their subscriber base.

Megafon (Moscow, Russia) would be following Russia's top mobile phone operator MTS (Moscow, Russia), which this year bought a stake in a bank from its parent company Sistema (Moscow, Russia).

AT&T deals for European wireless assets depend on price - CEO


AT&T Inc Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Tuesday his company would buy wireless assets in Europe if there were available at the right price.

Stephenson declined to comment on potential deals during an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference. The executive said European operators were far behind the United states in investments in wireless broadband, mainly because regulatory policies regarding spectrum licenses discouraged investments in the region.

But he said when the policies change, broadband investments should take off.

SFR viable as standalone business: report

The boss of French mobile operator SFR has said the company does not have to merge with a rival to remain a viable business, according to French publication le Journal du Dimanche.

Chief executive Jean-Yves Charlier is reported to have said the operator could continue to executive its strategy as a standalone player.

SFR (Paris, France) is a subsidiary of French telecoms and media conglomerate Vivendi (Paris, France), which has recently appeared intent on divesting itself of various telecoms assets and focusing on its core media interests.

EU authorities approve Vodafone takeover of Kabel Deutschland

European Union (EU) authorities have approved Vodafone’s €7.7 billion ($10.4 billion) takeover of Kabel Deutschland, clearing the way for a deal aimed at creating a player that can stand up to incumbent Deutsche Telekom in the market for so-called multi-play offerings.

“The Commission’s investigation confirmed that the activities of the merging parties were mainly complementary,” said the European Commission in a statement.

Sprint responds to rivals with launch of device-upgrade plan

US operator Sprint is copying rivals by extending its customers the option of upgrading their smartphones every 12 months.

The operator has unveiled a new offer called Sprint One Up that allows customers to change handsets midway through a contract.

The service will be available to customers signed up to two-year contracts on rates starting from $65 a month.

Deutsche Telekom to pick Scout24 buyer from four bidders: magazine


German phone company Deutsche Telekom will pick a buyer for its online classified advertising business Scout24 from four private equity firms, Focus magazine reported on Saturday.

Bidders Apax (London, UK), Silver Lake (Menlo Park, CA, USA), Hellman & Friedman (San Francisco, CA, USA) and TPG Capital (Fort Worth, TX, USA) must submit final bids by the end of October, the weekly magazine said, without citing a source.

The price range for Scout24 continues to be 1.5-2.0 billion euros ($2.03-2.70 billion), according to Focus.

AT&T explores potential sale of wireless towers


AT&T Inc said on Friday it is exploring options such as a sale of its wireless broadcast towers but noted that its ability to reach a deal would depend on the terms it is able to reach with the buyer for its ongoing use of the towers.

When wireless service providers sell broadcast towers they typically lease back space from tower operators so they can continue to offer their services without interruption.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) had hired bankers for a sale of its towers that could fetch about $5 billion.

China's Huawei expects $2 billion in 4G revenue this year


Huawei Technologies Co Ltd expects to take in more than $2 billion in revenues selling 4G gear this year as global carriers from China to Europe expand their networks, senior company executives said on Wednesday.

Even though 4G LTE (long-term evolution) promises faster video streaming and Internet downloads, the cost of smartphones would need to come down before the technology can enter the global mainstream, they told reporters in a briefing.

National regulators round on EC telecoms proposals

Europe’s national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have rounded on proposed reforms by the European Commission (EC), arguing that regulation is being rushed through and will have dire implications for investment, competition and consumers across the region.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which represents the interests of Europe’s NRAs, expressed concern that new rules would mark a shift away from a pro-competition approach to one that favored market consolidation.

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