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M7 to buy Liberty Global's assets; France Télévisions, Molotov in deal talks


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M7 to buy Liberty Global's assets; France Télévisions, Molotov in deal talks


* Liberty Global PLC will sell its direct-to-home satellite TV business in eastern Europe to Luxembourg-based M7 Group SA for a total enterprise value of about €180 million. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019, subject to regulatory approval. The cable giant will use the sale's proceeds for general corporate purposes, according to a statement.

* France Télévisions SA has begun deal talks with Molotov SA, after the latter ended discussions with Orange SA, which was looking to acquire a 50% stake in the over-the-top TV platform, Digital TV Europe reports, citing L'Express. France Télévisions may develop its own OTT platform through the potential deal, and may take a stake in Molotov's operations.


* The European Union's General Court said European consumer group BEUC, German magazine publishers and Foundem are seeking to intervene in the €2.42 billion antitrust case against Google LLC, Bloomberg News reports. The parties argued that they have a direct interest in the case. U.K. search company Foundem is the first complainant in the case against the Alphabet Inc. unit.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. has begun discussions with Irish and Dutch authorities to acquire broadcasting licenses in case of a no-deal Brexit, Bloomberg News reports, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The British broadcaster's licenses will not be valid unless the U.K. parts from the European Union with a withdrawal agreement in place.


* British Telecom unit EE Ltd., CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.'s Three U.K. and Vodafone Group PLC have entered into 5G testing agreements with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., as U.K. officials mull as to whether to ban the Chinese company in the country, Bloomberg News reports. Telefónica SA's British unit O2 has also signed a testing agreement with Huawei for its 200 sites in London. However, the testing contracts do not guarantee that Huawei will obtain supply contracts with the operators, the report said.

* On the other hand, BT will pull Huawei out of a £2.3 billion network project intended for police and other emergency responders, as well as in some parts of EE's Emergency Services Network, the South China Morning Post reports. The full removal of Huawei's equipment in the network is estimated to take about four years, with BT covering the cost for the changes.

* Inflexion Pvt. Equity Partners LLP completed a minority investment in U.K.-based privately owned cloud hosting provider UKFast.Net Ltd., valuing the company at £405 million. As part of the transaction, UKFast will continue to be majority-owned and led by its founder management team, according to a news release.

* SSE PLC is looking to sell a 50% stake in its enterprise telecoms business to M&G Prudential Ltd. investment arm Infracapital for about £380 million, Reuters reports. SSE plans to use the proceeds from the sale to lower its debt.


* The Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications has called on to interested parties to tackle the terms for its second auction on 5G licenses on Dec. 27, shortly before the February 2019 schedule of the first 5G auction, Reuters reports.

* German operator PYUR, also known as Tele Columbus, has completed the first phase of its digital switch over, which covers about 900,000 homes in Bavaria, Saxony and Bremen, Digital TV Europe reports. The next phase of the digitization plan will push through in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein in January 2019 and in North-Rhine Westphalia and Hamburg in February 2019. Other regions will also follow in the months thereafter.

* The Austrian Ministry of Infrastructure said it has invited applications for fresh rounds of funding under the Broadband Billion program, aimed at subsidizing broadband network construction. The total amount available under the program is about €113 million.


* French search engine Qwant SAS is preparing the release of its email service Qwant Mail provided by open source software developer Linagora, Les Echos reports. The startup aims to launch the service in the first half of 2019.


* KPN NV has hired Rothschild & Co. SCA in a plan to sell off KPN International, which provides business and wholesale services and reportedly has an estimated value of over $100 million, Telecompaper reports, citing TMT Finance.

* KPN, the city of Amsterdam and the Johan Cruijff Arena has jointly launched 5G Field Lab Amsterdam Zuidoost, Emerce reports. The 5G network in the and around the stadium, deployed by KPN and Nokia Corp., will reportedly be tested in 2019.


* Spotify Technology SA and Wixen Music Publishing Inc. have entered into a settlement agreement, following the latter's $1.6 billion lawsuit over Spotify's alleged rights infringement, BBC News reports. The settlement amount was undisclosed.

* Telia Co. AB and Fintur Holdings BV, which is jointly owned by Telia and Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, has completed the divestment of their 75% holding in Kazakh operator Kcell JSC, to the government-controlled operator Kazakhtelecom. This completion of the deal translates to Telia's exit from Eurasia, the company said.

* Norwegian telecom regulator Nkom said that it has ordered mobile operator Chili Mobil AS to change some of the terms to its free data subscription Fri Data, which offers 1,000 GB of data every month. Nkom said that the terms are in breach of network neutrality regulations, as subscribers aren't allowed to use the data for M2M.


* Turkish banks, including Akbank TAŞ, Türkiye Garanti Bankası AŞ and Türkiye İş Bankası AŞ, took over Turkish telecom provider Türk Telekomünikasyon Anonim Şirketi after its owner, Otas, a company set up by Oger Telecom Ltd., defaulted on a $4.75 billion syndicated loan it took from a number of banks, Bloomberg reports. The banks intend to sell the stake, the report said, citing Lazard, which advised them on setting up the SPV.

* Spanish public broadcaster RTVE is rolling out its over-the-top platform RTVE Play in Latin America, the U.S. and Canada by 2019, Broadband TV News reports. The OTT service will be accessible on the web and on mobile devices.

* Italian customer operations solutions provider Comdata SpA said it has agreed to acquire Telefónica's stake in call center business CATsa for an undisclosed amount. Comdata, via its Spanish branch Digitex, will acquire the shares held in CATsa by Telefónica through its unit DTS Distribuidora de Television Digital SA.


* United Group BV will continue to air AMC Networks Inc. channels in the Balkans following a multi-year carriage deal renewal with AMC Networks International - Central and Northern Europe, Broadband TV News reports.

* Slovenian operator Telekom Slovenije d d has unveiled its smart living and entertainment platform called NEO, according to Broadband TV News. In addition to the internet of things features, the platform also supports pay-TV services, gaming and e-commerce.


M&A Replay: Liberty Global selling DTH business; Turkish banks take over Türk Telekom: M7 Group is acquiring Liberty Global's direct-to-home satellite TV business in eastern Europe, while a group of Turkish banks took control of Türk Telekom after the telco's owner defaulted on a syndicated loan.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, editor's picks: EU's big tech plans; Huawei executive arrest: Stories covering the EU considering legislative proposals impacting the technology, media and telecommunication industries and the effects of the arrest of a Huawei executive are among the editor's top five story picks for the week ended Dec. 21.

Discovery bolsters golf streaming service with Ladies European Tour deal: International direct-to-consumer service GolfTV will feature live event coverage from the professional women's tour in 25 nations, offering a portfolio that includes PGA Tour and European Tour action, as well as Tiger Woods' instructional fare.


Economics of TV & Film: Kagan box office report, week 50: The U.S. weekly box office bounced back in week 50 after two weeks of declines. Total week 50 box office was up 26.1% from $117.8 million in 2017 to $148.6 million in 2018.

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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