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EU on Google deal; T-Mobile, Sprint merger update; Netflix rival's options

TOP NEWS

* The European Data Protection Board said Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC's acquisition of Fitbit Inc. "could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection," urging the companies to mitigate potential threats to privacy rights and data protection before notifying the transaction to the European Commission. The two companies had agreed to the acquisition, valued at roughly $2.1 billion, in November 2019.

* T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. entered into an amendment to their merger agreement to give Deutsche Telekom AG a slightly higher ownership stake in the new combined company. Immediately following the completion of the deal, T-Mobile's majority owner Deutsche Telekom will own about 43% of the combined company, up from just below 42% under the original agreement announced in 2018.

* Streaming platform ivi.ru Media Ltd. is weighing various options to finance its growth, including a public float, a private placement or strategic tie-ups, Bloomberg News reports, quoting founder and CEO Oleg Tumanov. Ivi.ru, regarded as a Russian rival to Netflix Inc., tapped Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help it decide on its options.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. secured 91 5G contracts, of which 47 are in Europe, National Business Daily reports.

* Gamma Communications PLC offered to fully acquire Spanish company VozTelecom, Telecompaper reports. Gamma's offer values VozTelecom at an enterprise value of around €30.5 million, including a debt of €5.2 million.

UK AND IRELAND

* About 50.5% of U.K. households have a subscription to at least one streaming service as of the fourth quarter of 2019, according to figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Netflix has the largest share of the said market with more than 12 million homes, followed by Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video and Sky Ltd.'s NOW TV.

* The U.K. government is investing about £65 million in 5G trials across the country. The budget includes £30 million for seven 5G R&D projects under the Rural Connected Communities competition, over £5 million for industrial 5G projects by the Ford Motor Co. and Zeetta Networks, and £30 million for the 5G Create contest to develop new 5G use cases in various industries.

* Comcast Corp. unit Sky is teaming up with A+E Networks' U.K. unit to relaunch the History (UK) channel as Sky History in the spring. The channel targets to invest more in locally commissioned original content, starting this year.

* Eir reported EBITDA of €147 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2020, up €6 million or 4% from year-ago figures. The Irish telco's revenue for the same period, however, decreased €9 million or 3% to €313 million.

* Fiber network operator CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. is investing at least £25 million to roll out full-fiber networks in the Adur district and the Worthing borough in West Sussex, U.K.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland GmbH unveiled 11 self-produced TV series at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, or the Berlinale, Horizont reports. The broadcaster is investing more than €1 billion in local content to counteract large U.S.-based streaming services.

* The Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten recommended to increase the German broadcasting fee by 86 euro cents to €18.36 per month in 2021. The federal states will have to individually agree to the proposed increase.

FRANCE

* Orange SA said YouTube will be available on Orange TV from Feb. 25. Subscribers with a TV UHD decoder or a TV v2 dongle will be able to access all of the platform's free content, including those in 4K format.

* Bouygues SA unit Bouygues Telecom SA reported revenues of €6.06 billion in 2019, up 13% year-on-year. Current operating profit was €540 million in 2019, up €86 million from year-ago figures.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Belgian telco Citymesh NV plans to acquire a 4G license, Tweakers reports. It comes as the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications will reportedly organize an auction of 2.6 GHz spectrum in which existing 4G providers are not allowed to bid.

* The Dutch government wants to assuage concerns from the municipality of Bergen about the possible negative consequences of 5G networks to public health, Telecompaper reports, citing a letter by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

* Intelsat SA announced fourth-quarter and fiscal 2019 results with latest-quarter revenue of $517 million and full-year revenue of $2.06 billion. Full-year 2019 adjusted EBITDA amounted to $1.48 billion.

* Google Cloud acquired Netherlands-based IT company Cornerstone Technology BV for an undisclosed amount. The transaction is expected to facilitate the migration of customers' mainframe workloads to Google Cloud.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Marketing technology company TargetEveryone AB will acquire data system services firm Bizwell Sweden AB for 5 million Swedish kronor in cash. The deal is expected to close March 1.

* Elisa Oyj launched 5G services in the Port of Helsinki area. This will allow ship passengers using the Finnish capital's Western Harbour to access mobile data speeds touted to be about 10 times faster than 4G.

* Ericsson and partner KDDI Corp. trialed cloud-native CI/CD pipeline delivery for KDDI's stand-alone 5G Core network. The network will rely on virtualized and cloud-native network functions.

* Ooredoo's Qatari unit is set to fully deploy Nokia Corp.'s customer engagement platform. The platform, which has artificial intelligence capabilities, uses analytics to help improve digital experiences aimed at addressing customer needs.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Italian operator Tiscali SpA agreed to buy 51% of Mistral Pay Ltd., which provides payment solutions to individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, Telecompaper reports. Tiscali will pay €200,000 for the majority stake and an additional €1.8 million to Mistral Pay in the form of a capital hike in the 24 months after the deal closes.

* Telefónica SA named Eduardo Navarro chief of its new strategy and public affairs unit, Telecompaper reports. Navarro is also taking on investor relations and global strategy responsibilities, in addition to his current duties for communication, brand, public affairs and sustainability.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invested 200 million Polish zlotys in cable company Cyfrowy Polsat SA's issuance. The Polish company aims to raise 1 billion Polish zlotys to refinance its investments in energy efficiency.

* Orange Polska SA launched a line of internet-of-things packages focused on small and medium-sized enterprises and startups, Telecompaper reports.

* Slovak operator 4ka may end its distribution partnership with Slovenská pošta as, amid the latter's plans to ink a cooperation agreement with rival company O2 Slovakia sro, Telecompaper reports, citing 4ka CEO Juraj Ondris. O2 Czech Republic as owns O2 Slovakia.

* Russia's State Radio Frequencies Commission intends to approve a new distribution scheme for 5G bands in the country, Telecompaper reports, citing Comnews.ru.

* Mobile TeleSystems PJSC said it will invest in the production of the musical "Chess," in cooperation with Fancy Show, Telecompaper reports. The musical is set to premiere in October.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires: Yelp appoints new CFO; Nielsen adds 2 new board members: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a weekly rundown of high-level executive and director changes in the global technology, media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Netflix Q4'19 subs continued to grow despite Disney+ launch: Netflix reported 2019 results in late January and all eyes were on the world's largest streaming content provider as it faced some major competition from Disney+ in the final quarter of 2019.

Technology: OTT a boon to video demand-side platforms: The rise of ad-supported streaming services promises to increase the role of programmatically traded video advertising and, along with it, vendor opportunity in the space. This will benefit video demand-side platforms, or DSPs.

RECENT EARNINGS

Telefónica sees Q4'19 loss amid restructuring: The Spanish telco suffered a loss attributable to equity holders of the parent of €202 million, compared to a profit of €610 million in the prior-year period.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Marieke Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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