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Facebook facing IRS suit; Altice sells Newsday stake

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M&A rebound sparks optimism for near-term deal activity

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Fintech Intelligence Newsletter: February 2021

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Bundling fixed & mobile services is still a popular strategy for operators in Western Europe especially in Portugal and Spain

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Episode 5: The Future of Work - The World of Workforce Experience and Productivity


Facebook facing IRS suit; Altice sells Newsday stake

TOP NEWS

*The U.S. Internal Revenue Service filed suit against social media giant to compel the company toproduce documents for a federal investigation. The , filed July 6 in San Francisco, ispart of the federal body's investigation into Facebook's federal income taxliability, centering on the company's transferal of rights associated with itsworldwide business to Facebook Ireland Holdings Ltd. during the tax periodending Dec. 31, 2010.

*Patrick Dolan, the son of Cablevision Systems Corp. founder Charles Dolan,entered into anagreement to purchase a majority stake in Newsday Media Group from . Under the , terms of which were notdisclosed, an entity led by Patrick Dolan bought 75% of Newsday Media, whichincludes the flagship Newsday paper,with Altice retaining a 25% interest in the company.

*Mediaset SpA raisedits stake in its Spanish unit Mediaset Spain to 50.208%, and now owns 160.06 millionshares in the company, Telecompaper reports.The Italian media group previously owned a 46.169% stake in Mediaset Spain.

AND IRELAND

*Senior RTÉ executive Glen Killane is moving to to become the managingdirector of Eir TV and Eir Sport, TheIrish Times reports.Killane has been managing director of RTÉ Television and a member of RTÉ'sexecutive board since 2010.

*Sky plc will axeabout 50 studio employees across its news and sport units, and replace themwith automated robot cameras, TheGuardian (London) reports.Roles expected to be hit reportedly include technical and camera operators,directors' assistants and vision mixers.

*Japan's SoftBank GroupCorp. and U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co. LP invested $65million into U.K.-based cybersecurity company Darktrace, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reports. Darktraceuses artificial intelligence to detect threats.

*Kids-focused video-on-demand service Ketchup TV debuted on the Freeviewplatform in the U.K., Digital TV Europe reports.Featuring shows like "Noddy," "Casper," "George of theJungle" and "Little Baby Bum," the VOD platform can be accessedvia Freeview connected TVs and set-top boxes, as well as on iOS and Androiddevices.

GERMANY,SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

*Apple Inc. launchedApple Pay in Switzerland, the second country in Europe following the U.K., Handelsblatt reports.Apple Pay, which allows iPhone or Apple Watch users to pay in shops that havecontactless payment, can now be used in about 100,000 terminals in the country.

*German film and sport content producer Constantin Medien rescheduled its annualgeneral meeting after running out of time to vote on whether to sell thecompany's film-producing activities, DWDLreports.The company is split between the faction of supervisory board chairman DieterHahn, who is pushing for a sale of the film business to focus on sports, andthat of former CEO Bernhard Burgener, who claims the strategy is too risky.

*Cologne-based media group M. DuMont Schauberg grew sales and profits in 2015while costs increased as a result of the introduction of a minimum wage, Handelsblatt reports.After-tax profit more than doubled from a year earlier to €10.3 million.

*The former France Télécom, now Orange SA, is being prosecuted for moral harassment, afirst for a CAC 40 company, reportsLe Figaro. Prosecutors allege theFrench telecom and its former CEO Didier Lombard set up an employeedestabilization policy to expedite departures within the company.

*Vivendi SA unitCanal Plus SA renewedits major golf broadcast contracts for the next season, reportsSatellifax. The French cable TV channel secured the four Grand Slamtournaments, the European Tour, all events on the PGA Tour and the 2018 and2020 Ryder Cup.

*Orange signedan agreement for the deployment of fiber optics for 55 municipalities in theAlpes-Maritimes with the state, region, department, city and four urbancommunities. The agreement facilitates information sharing, terms and fiber tothe home network deployment schedule with local authorities, while clarifyingthe scope of Orange's private investments in the area.

*Technicolor and SwisscomAG-owned Fastweb SpAannouncedthe launch of FASTGATE, a gateway service that integrates ultra-broadband VDSL35B data access and enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity technology from Technicolor.The service will deliver reliable 200 Mbps download speeds and improvedwireless access to homes and businesses in Italy.

*SFR announceda new organizational structure for SFR Media. The unit now consists of SFRPresse, SFR RadioTV and SFR Sport, and brings together all the media activitiesfor the group in France.

, BELGIUM ANDLUXEMBOURG

*Altice is considering selling its Belgian division SFR Belgium to focus onlarger operations within markets such as France and the U.S., Bloomberg reports.The deal could value SFR Belgium, which has about 110,000 cable customers, atabout €500 million.

* TheDutch Consumer Authority wrote a letter to the European Commission expressingconcerns about the future merger between Liberty Global plc's Ziggo NV and Vodafone Group Plc's Vodafone Netherlands, De Telegraaf reports.According to the authority, the merger will prevent sufficient competition inthe market and will cause a duopoly.

*Dutch Media Authority CvdM fined SBS Broadcasting €60,000 for exceeding themaximum advertising time on its channels SBS6 and NET5, reportsVillamedia. According to Dutch medialaw, ads can take up to 12 minutes per hour, a rule SBS violated six times in2014 and 2015.

*Intelligent, a Belgian company specializing in hosting services, announced theacquisition of Byte and HostingXS, Dutch companies that focus on hosting ofe-commerce software, accordingto Telecompaper. Intelligent reportedly said the acquisition results in thecompany being market leader of e-commerce hosting in the Netherlands.

*The Dutch Lower House approved the legalization of online gambling, reportsNu.nl. The law, which will only take effect if the Senate approves it as well,will enable gambling companies to request a license to host a gambling websitein the Netherlands.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*Telia Co. AB said ina statementthat it is acquiring Comne Work AB's fiber network business comprising 3,000private homes and 50 companies and municipally owned operations. The takeover,financial terms of which were not disclosed, will enable Telia to accelerateits rate of expansion in the greater Skåne region of southern Sweden.

*Schibsted ASAterminated plans to acquire the Swedish online real estate classifieds websiteHemnet AB, reportsDI Digital. The decision followed notice by the Swedish Competition Authoritythat the acquisition would not be approved in its present form.

* Areport by Amnesty International has indirectly criticized Telia Co. AB andpartner telco Turkcell in Belarus, DagensIndustri reports. Amnesty accused phone networks run byglobal telecoms of cooperating with state authorities to stifle free speech anddisapproval of the Belarus government.

* About95% of Telenor ASA's203 million customers worldwide are in countries adjudged to have a high levelof corruption, reportsAftenposten. Telenor's growth hasbeen strongest in countries listed by Transparency International as being proneto have high levels of corruption and a high degree of political risk.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Italian market regulator Consob prohibited shortselling of shares, after theItalian operator lost 10.8% of its value on July 6, Telecompaper reports.The value drop was due to IliadSA's announcement that it plans to create a fourth mobileoperator in Italy, according to the report.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Czech antivirus software developerAvast Software said in a news releasethat it is acquiring rival AVG for about $1.3 billion. Avast will purchase allof AVG's ordinary shares for $25 per share in cash, in a deal which is expectedto bring a combined network of over 400 million endpoints, of which 160 millionare mobile.

*Mundio Mobile launched mobile virtual network operator services in the CzechRepublic under the Vectone brand, Telecompaper reports.The MVNO is using the network of Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile Czech Republic.

FEATURED NEWS

: S&P Global Market Intelligencepresents a weekly rundown of executive changes in the media and communicationsindustries.

: "TheSecret Life of Pets" is expected to unseat "Finding Dory" as thetop earner of the July 8 weekend, riding the momentum that has led animatedanimals to the top of the box office several times in 2016.

: Philippines-basedGlobe Telecom formed a partnership with Netflix to offer the streaming serviceto its customers, while Singtel launched the OTT video portal app Cast over its4G network in Singapore.

FEATURED RESEARCH

: Gigabitbroadband technologies, new services like VR they will enable, and challengestheir launch poses for cable operators were among the most discussed topicsduring the June 28-30 gathering in Warsaw, Poland.        

: DTV is a joint venture between Japanese telco NTT Docomoand Japanese media company Avex Group offering video through subscriptions andrentals.

: On July 7, Sky became the first telecom operator inthe U.K. to bundle fixed telephony, broadband and over-the-top video withoutrequiring consumers to commit to a fixed-term contract.

: While 5G is not expected to launchcommercially until 2020, a look back at LTE build outs illustrates how quicklythe big four carriers can upgrade a nationwide network.

Amanda Kelly, PatrickWinters, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. TheDaily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external linksmay require a subscription.