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BT facing US lawsuits; MTG divests FTV Prima stake

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BT facing US lawsuits; MTG divests FTV Prima stake

TOP NEWS

* British Telecom is facing at least two shareholder lawsuits in the U.S. following the recent accounting scandal in the company's Italian operations, Reuters reports. The lawsuits, filed in the U.S. District Courts in Manhattan, N.Y., and Newark, N.J., reportedly include BT CEO Gavin Patterson, his predecessor Ian Livingston and finance director Tony Chanmugam as co-defendants.

* Modern Times Group MTG AB announced that it has sold its 50% stake in the Czech broadcasting company FTV Prima Holding to Denemo Media for almost €119 million. The sale is dependent on regulatory approval, which is expected in the first quarter of 2017. MTG said that the proceeds could be used to increase ownership in InnoGames to 51% from 21%.

UK AND IRELAND

* Discovery Communications Inc. is threatening to pull its channels from Sky plc's platform if the companies fail to reach a new carriage deal, Variety reports. Discovery claims that the British pay TV operator is paying Discovery less than what it was paying 10 years ago despite the latter's increased viewing share on the platform by more than 20%.

* BT appointed Luis Alvarez, the head of BT's multinational corporate division, to lead the firm's European business, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. Alvarez will succeed Corrado Sciolla following the company's Italian accounting fiasco.

* Microsoft Corp. reaffirmed its commitment to its British operations despite the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU, London's The Daily Telegraph reports. The statement follows Microsoft U.K. government affairs manager Owen Larter's comment that the company could opt to build data centers outside U.K. instead.

* British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman will leave the publication in the summer, after 25 years in the role, the publication announced. Managing Editor Frances Bentley will also quit in the summer, after 24 years of service.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* T-Mobile US Inc. said in a Form 8-K filing that its unit T-Mobile USA Inc. agreed on a $4 billion secured-term loan facility with its parent Deutsche Telekom AG. The facility, which will be issued in two tranches on Jan. 31, will be used to refinance $1.98 billion of outstanding loans under a credit agreement in November 2015.

* Hamburg-based game developers Goodgame Studios, which produced hit game "Empire," are facing sinking profits, according to Handelsblatt. The company is likely to let go 200 of its 550 employees. Handelsblatt is calling it an "existential crisis" of the company's founders.

* German media and technology holdings firm Virtual Minds AG has acquired Berlin-based ad technology provider The Adex, according to German news site New Business. Virtual Media AG is part of German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE and will be acquiring a 78% stake in The Adex.

* Brothers Thilo and Klaus Proff acquired a majority share in German TV production company Maximus Film last summer. German media magazine DWDL reports that following the initial takeover phases, founder Christian Schene has announced his departure.

FRANCE

* Orange SA and Ericsson AB said speeds beyond 10 Gbps have been reached in preparation for the future 5G mobile network. Orange said deployment of 5G will start from 2020 in Europe and, citing Ericsson's mobility report, there will be 500 million global subscriptions by 2022.

* Ghana's Mega-Choice Digital Network inked a 10-year satellite capacity contract with Eutelsat Communications SA for the distribution of its newly launched direct-to-home TV service in the African country, according to a news release. Mega-Choice is an associate company of Ghanaian network Crystal TV.

* Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, said Orange's mobile bank will launch in France in a few weeks, Boursier.com reports. In 2016 Orange acquired 65% of the capital of Groupama Banque to create Orange Bank, with the goal of reaching more than 2 million customers in France.

* Daily Motion could be blocked in Russia within days, Les Echos reports. The French video platform, owned by Vivendi SA, is accused by the Russian courts of hosting content that infringes copyright.

* The departure of the general manager of Arcep to become head of public affairs at Google France may have hit a snag, Le Figaro reports. The ethics committee of media regulator ARCEP, which decides on any transfer of a public service agent to a private company, has decided to review Benoît Loutrel's controverted case a second time.

* The French association Fédération française des Télécoms, which includes members Orange, Bouygues Telecom and Altice NV-owned SFR, announced that 1,064 new communities have been covered with 3G or 4G mobile internet in France in 2016, including 427 in mountainous areas. The federation also announced that 958 new communities, including 489 in mountain areas, will have mobile internet before mid-2017.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Cimpress NV unveiled plans to decentralize its operations in a bid to "improve accountability for customer satisfaction and capital returns, simplify decision-making [and] improve the speed of execution." As part of the restructuring, Cimpress plans to transfer about 3,000 employees who are part of central teams into its business units, cut about 160 posts and reduce planned hiring in certain areas of the business, according to a press release.

* Belgian TV producer Studio 100 has acquired a majority stake of 68% in German media company M4E, Standaard reports. M4E reportedly owns the broadcasting and merchandising rights to several popular children's series, and also possesses the Dutch company Telescreen.

* OLON/NLPO, the Dutch association for local radio broadcasters, is preparing to launch a DAB+ pilot, Media Magazine reports. According to OLON/NLPO, it is still unknown where exactly the experiment will take place, and which broadcasters will be participating.

* KPN NV daughter Telfort has made changes in its mobile business subscription offer, Telecompaper reports. Telfort now provides three options, ranging from €35 to €70 per month, and no longer offers a subscription for freelancers.

* The Dutch government is going to finance internet connections for more than 800 elementary and high schools in the Netherlands, according to an online statement. Education Secretary Sander Dekker and Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp have made €5.5 million available for the initiative, aimed at enabling modern education methods in all schools.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* The gaming unit of Egmont-owned production company Nordisk Film, Nordisk Film Games, has made its first investment in a game company, DI Digital reports. The unit is investing up to 13 million Swedish kronor in Danish company Flashbulb Games, which was founded in April 2016.

* Lars Söderfjell is stepping down from the board of Swedish tech company Fingerprint Cards, due to being investigated for market manipulation, Affärsvärlden reports. Söderfjell was arrested earlier this week for alleged disclosure of inside information in connection with a profit warning in December 2016.

* U.S.-based video invetory platform SpotX is expanding its operations in Stockholm, Advanced Television reports. The company has selected Daniel Wohlfart joins as director of operations and account management and former Spotify Ltd sales planner Sabine Janetzki will serve as demand facilitation manager.

* RTL Group unit RTL Nederland launched the connected TV app RTL XL, which is accessible through all smart TVs from LG, Philips and Samsung, Broadband TV News reports.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Italian telecom regulator AGCOM will call Mediaset SpA to a hearing as part of its probe into Vivendi SA's stake-building in the Italian broadcaster, Reuters reports, citing a source. The hearing will reportedly be held at the start of February.

* Enel OpEn Fiber won the first phase of the tenders to build a national high-speed broadband network in six digital divide areas across Italy, according to Telecompaper, citing press reports. The Enel SpA unit reportedly outbid Telecom Italia SpA and the Retelit-Eolo-Eds consortium.

* Spanish satellite broadband provider Eurona Telecom rolled out 30 Mbps broadband services in Spain and Portugal, following a 10-year capacity with U.K.-based Avanti Communications for its HYLAS 1 satellite, according to a news release. The two companies are also planning to expand their service footprint to areas such as Central Europe and North Africa.

* Vodafone Group Plc's Vodafone España SAU picked Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to maintain its fiber network, Telecompaper reports, citing Expansion. The contract, which is under a five-year term, was for €200 million.

* PT Portugal launched its fibre optic service in Condeixa-a-Nova, which will serve about 8,000 homes, Telecompaper reports. The telco also launched the service in the municipality of Cantanhede, serving 5,000 homes.

EASTERN EUROPE

* H1 Telekom founder and shareholder Zoran Curkovic plans to consolidate its debt, amounting to 211.3 million Croatian kuna, and increase its capital before its intended takeover of Optima Telekom, Telecompaper reports.

* VimpelCom's VimpelCom Russia, which is working under the Beeline brand, tapped Huawei for the research and testing of 5G technologies, Telecompaper reports. The companies plan to tests the LTE-Unlicensed technologies and LTE-Advanced functions during the first quarter of 2017.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. appealed to the Russian Supreme Court over its legal battle with local competition watchdog FAS, Telecompaper reports. The tech giant was accused of breaking the competition law in Russia for its Android mobile apps.

* Rostelecom PJSC launched a news messaging service dubbed as Allo Accessible Roaming, Telecompaper reports, citing Comnews.ru. The news service allows users to perform voice and video calls, with a text messaging option set to become available during the first half of the year.

* Russian DTH platform NTV-Plus is expanding its coverage as it's set to begin broadcasting in the far eastern portion of Russia, Broadband TV News reports.

* Mobile TeleSystems PJSC's satellite TV services advertisement was misleading and violates the Law on Advertising, according to a decision by the Russian competition regulator FAS, Telecompaper reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: AMC raises eyebrows with global theater domination: AMC Entertainment's latest acquisition solidifies its position as the largest theater chain in the world, but some are showing concerns over the spend.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Networks: Majority of top cable networks end 2016 with declines in traditional subscribers: Subscriber loss trends continued in December, as 29 of the 30 most widely distributed basic cable networks experienced year-over-year declines in 2016.

Sylvia Edwards Davis, Anne Freier, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.