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Best of Nordics: Telia faces $1.4B settlement bill over Uzbek corruption probe

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Best of Nordics: Telia faces $1.4B settlement bill over Uzbek corruption probe

In this monthlyfeature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent marketdevelopments in Denmark,Sweden, Norway,Finland and Iceland.

TOP NEWS

* U.S. and Dutch authorities have Telia Co. AB to pay about $1.4 billion to settleinvestigations into supposedly dodgy deals regarding the telco's entry intoUzbekistan in 2007. In a Sept. 15 statement, Telia Chairman Marie Ehrling saidher company is working to clarify the settlement's details before deciding onits next steps in negotiating with the authorities. Telia paid $381 million inbribes to Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of former Uzbek President IslamKarimov, allowing the telco to do business in Uzbekistan, the Organized Crimeand Corruption Reporting Project reported Sept. 15, citing its 2015 report onthe matter. The Swedish operator also reportedly promised additional paymentsof $75 million to Karimova.

M&A

* ComHem said Sept. 30 that it completed the acquisition of digital pay TV operatorBoxer TV-Access AB. The deal enables Boxer to sell fiber-based broadband and TVservices, a move expected by Com Hem to support its goal of reaching 800,000residential customers over the succeeding years.

* The Swedish Competition Authority earlier gave thethumbs up to ComHem's acquisition of Boxer TV-Access, according to a Sept. 22 news release.

* SpotifyLtd. is in advanced discussions to take over Germany-based music streamingrival SoundCloud, the Financial Times(London) reported Sept. 28, citing people briefed on the talks. Terms of thepotential transaction were unclear, as the talks between the two companiescould still fall apart.

INTERNET, OTT ANDMOBILE

* AlphabetInc. unit GoogleInc. on Oct. 4 released its new Pixel smartphone, as well as a newvirtual reality headset dubbed Daydream View that along with the phone createsa mobile VR experience. One of the phone's features is its integration withDaydream VR, a platform that connects the phone with the headset. Daydream Viewalso integrates with Google's own media platforms such as Google Maps, whereusers can launch a VR Street View. Google created 150 VR Street View tours forvarious global destinations including the Taj Mahal in India and the FaroeIslands in Denmark.

* Spotify started offering its music streaming service in Japan, thecompany said Sept. 29. Spotify is initially available in the country on aninvitation-only basis. Users can opt for the free, ad-supported service, orsubscribe to the ad-free Spotify Premium service for ¥980per month. The Swedish company also appointed Ichiro Tamaki, formerlyAmazon.com Inc.Japan's vice president of devices and Kindle content, to run Spotify Japan asits general manager.

* LibertyGlobal plc and CableLabs, a research and development lab for theglobal cable industry, have become part of the MulteFire Alliance, an internationalmember-driven consortium for developing next-generation wireless technology.The alliance is working to adapt 3GPP-based mobile wireless standards forshared and unlicensed spectrum, according to a Sept. 21 news release. Othermembers of the alliance include Ericsson AB, Intel Corp., Nokia Corp. and Qualcomm.

* T-Mobile USInc. is conducting 5G trials in partnership with Ericsson, Nokiaand Samsung Electronics Co.Ltd. In a Sept. 20 company blog post, T-Mobile Chief Technology OfficerNeville Ray said the telco achieved speeds of 12 Gbps and latency of less than2 milliseconds when it streamed four 4K videos simultaneously as part of theearly trials. Meanwhile, Ericsson and Nokia said the same day that they willwork with T-Mobile to deploy a pre-standards 5G network for further lab andfield trials. T-Mobile and Ericsson also tested a voice call between 4G and 5Gnetworks.

* DeutscheTelekom AG unit T-Mobile Netherlands tapped Ericsson to deliver the online video platform forover-the-top service KNIPPR, Ericsson said Sept. 7. Under the multiyearagreement, Ericsson will, among others, provide end-to-end online videoservices such as content management and preparation, digital rights managementand content delivery networks for KNIPPR.

CONTENT, CARRIAGE ANDLICENSING DEALS

* Shanghai-based Twinkle Film Productions the rights to remake Danishanimated film "Ronal the Barbarian," Variety reported Sept. 21. The Chinese film production company isplanning to create a live-action version for Chinese audiences. "Ronal theBarbarian" was completed in 2011 and was sold for distribution to morethan 30 countries.

OTHER NEWS

* Ericsson on Oct. 4 unveiled plans to about 3,900 jobs in Sweden as partof ongoing cost-saving measures. The job cuts will affect the tech firm'soperations in six sites across the country and include about 1,000 positions inproduction, about 800 in research and development, and about 1,200 in othergroup and support functions. Ericsson also wants to cut the number of itsconsultants in Sweden by 900. Meanwhile, Chief Strategy and Technology OfficerUlf Ewaldsson said Ericsson is planning to hire about 1,000 engineers in Swedenover the next three years to support company efforts to develop newtechnologies.

* Google plans to establish a data center in Mumbai by 2017, in a move tocatch up with cloud rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon Web Services Inc. in the Indian market, Mintreported Sept. 30. Google also plans to set up new Google Cloud Regions inAustralia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K.

* NetflixInc. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos Spotify's board, Recode reportedSept. 27. With Sarandos joining the company's board, Spotify can get help withits plans to eventually move in to video as Sarandos negotiates with moviestudios and TV networks for Netflix.

* Telia has named Pasi Koistinen as its new liaison officer inLatvia, in hopes of resolving issues with the country's government regardingthe ownership of fixed telco Lattelecom Group and mobile operator LMT. The Swedishoperator said Sept. 14 that Koistinen will join LMT's supervisory council.Telia is also considering selling its stake in LMT to its Denmark-based unitTILTS Communications, Telecompaper reported Sept. 13.