Financial

S&P cuts Nokia rating further on Siemens venture buyout

Reuters

Standard & Poor's downgraded Nokia further into junk territory on Friday, warning that the Finnish telecom firm's plan to take over Siemens AG's stake in their joint network equipment venture would strain its finances.

The ratings agency downgraded the one-time tech darling by one notch to B+ from BB- citing pressure on its net cash after Nokia (Helsinki, Finland) said on Monday it would buy Siemens's (Munich, Germany) 50 percent share in Nokia Siemens Networks.

Japan's DoCoMo holds out to iPhone mania, but at what cost?

Reuters

NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan's largest mobile provider and a pioneer of the mobile Internet, is one of just a few holdouts among the world's big mobile carriers not offering Apple Inc's iPhone to its 60 million customers.

It is paying heavily for that obstinacy - with a net 3.2 million users jumping ship to its two domestic rivals over the last 4-1/2 years - but is determined to protect the walled garden of services it has built around its own smartphones.

India Telecom Commission supports allowing 100% foreign investment

India’s Telecom Commission has backed a proposed rule change that would allow foreign companies to take full ownership of telecoms assets in the country, reports Reuters.

At present, overseas investors are prohibited from owning more than 74% of an Indian telecoms business – a regulation that has forced companies like Vodafone (Newbury, UK), Telenor (Fornebu, Norway) and Sistema (Moscow, Russia) to find domestic partners.

Telecom Italia, Hutchison talks stalled ahead of board meeting: sources

Reuters

Hutchison Whampoa is losing patience with Telecom Italia over lack of progress on a proposed merger of their Italian mobile phone units, people familiar with the talks said, casting doubt on prospects for a deal.

The Hong Kong-based conglomerate, backed by Asian magnate Li Ka Shing, favors consolidation to bolster its position in its six European markets and is eager to do a deal in Italy, where it is the smallest mobile operator with a 10 percent market share.

Spanish mobile bills to fall after regulator rate cut

Reuters

Spain's telecoms watchdog cut the fees mobile operators can charge each other for connecting calls on Monday, which is likely to lower customer phone bills in a nation battling recession.

Competition in the Spanish market has heated up in recent months for operators Telefonica (Madrid, Spain), Vodafone (Alcobendas, Spain), Orange (Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain) and Yoigo (Alcobendas, Spain) as they struggle to cling on to customers in the country, where 27 percent of the workforce is unemployed.

EU roaming rates slashed from July

New rules introduced by the European Union (EU) mean the cost of using mobile services when travelling between EU countries will fall from the beginning of this week.

Prices for making calls look set to fall by up to 17% a minute, with those for receiving calls dropping by 11% a minute, while the cost of sending a text message will come down by around 11%.

The biggest cuts, however, are to the cost of using mobile data services.

Nokia to buy out Siemens equipment venture; shares surge

Reuters

Nokia shares surged on Monday after it announced plans to buy out partner Siemans AG's share of their valuable network equipment joint venture, betting on the technology to run 4G networks after it stumbled as a maker of smartphones.

Loss-making Nokia (Helsinki, Finland) gains full control of the profitable venture Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for $2.2 billion, a cheaper than-expected price, analysts said, although they also noted the acquisition would put pressure on Nokia's balance sheet.

T-Mobile buys US Cellular spectrum for $308 million

T-Mobile US has paid $308 million to US Cellular for a swathe of spectrum that will allow it to provide 4G services in the Mississippi Valley region.

The deal with US Cellular (Chicago, IL, USA) gives T-Mobile (Bellevue, WA, USA) – the fourth-biggest operator in the US – some 10MHz of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum covering about 32 million people across 29 markets, including St Louis, Nashville, Kansas City, Memphis, Lexington, Little Rock-North Little Rock, Birmingham, New Orleans and Louisville.

France Telecom becomes Orange

France Telecom has officially dropped its original moniker and taken up the name of Orange, which has served as its brand across most commercial activities for several years.

The change came into effect at the start of this week, having won the approval of the operator’s shareholders in May.

In a statement, the company said that all its products and services in more than 30 countries will henceforth be sold under the Orange brand name, with all commercial, internal and corporate communication grouped under a single brand identity.

Sprint shareholders say yes to SoftBank takeover

Shareholders in US operator Sprint have “overwhelmingly” approved SoftBank’s $21.6 billion deal to acquire a 78% stake in the company.

The yes vote smooths the way for a takeover of the third-biggest operator in the US by its counterpart in Japan.

SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) had faced competition over a Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA) takeover from Dish Network (Meridian, CO, USA), but the satellite TV company last week announced that it was abandoning attempts to acquire Sprint, making a decision easier for Sprint shareholders.

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