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EC proposes 3% tech turnover tax; Telenor to sell CEE ops

TOP NEWS

* The European Commission has unveiled plans for a 3% tax on the global revenues of tech companies, as it clamps down on firms that shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions. The proposed tax will be levied on earnings from online advertising, impacting Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., as well as on earnings from subscriber fees charged by service providers such as Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., and from the sale of data generated from user-provided information to third parties.

* Telenor ASA has agreed to sell its assets in central and eastern Europe to PPF Group NV, an investment firm owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, for an enterprise value of €2.8 billion. The deal, anticipated to close in the third quarter, will cover Telenor's mobile operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as service provider Telenor Common Operation.

UK AND IRELAND

* Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted in a March 21 post that his company has made mistakes regarding user privacy and outlined the steps it plans to take to restore users' trust. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will also investigate Facebook on the alleged violation of a consent decree over the use of personal information, Bloomberg News reports, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.

* British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her support for an investigation into Cambridge Analytica LLC over the U.K. political consultancy firm's alleged misuse of Facebook users' data, Reuters reports. May told the House of Commons that she does not know of any existing contracts between the government and Cambridge Analytica or its parent company. Meanwhile, a spokesman for May confirmed that the Conservative Party was approached by Cambridge Analytica but the party did not accept the latter's proposal, Reuters reported separately.

* Property developer Manhattan Loft Corp. Ltd. has emerged as a bidder to build a Hollywood-scale TV and film studio in Dagenham, east London, The Guardian reports. Pinewood Studios Ltd. is said to be the front-runner among at least six bids submitted for the project.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Germany has called on Facebook to clarify the use of its data following allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed millions of Facebook users' information, Reuters reports. The German government wants to know whether the data in question were used for political purposes, according to a spokeswoman. In addition, Justice Minister Katarina Barley is summoning the company to clarify whether the information from German users was safeguarded from illegal third-party access, according to a separate Reuters report.

* More than 1,800 startups in Germany have received financial assistance from the country's Federal Ministry for Economics in the form of an EXIST stipend, German digital association Bitkom said.

FRANCE

* Ubisoft Entertainment SA has confirmed the sale of Vivendi SA's entire 27.3% stake in the company, part of which was executed by way of an accelerated bookbuilding to qualified investors. All shares were sold at a price of €66 per share, representing approximately 6.8% of Ubisoft's share capital.

* France's Senate culture committee, chaired by Catherine Morin-Desailly, and the law committee, chaired by Philippe Bas, will organize a round table March 28 in anticipation of parliament's proposals to combat fake news.

* Mediawan SA, Groupe AB's recently acquired audiovisual content platform, has released its financial statements for fiscal year 2017. It reported revenues of €163.8 million, a 3% increase from 2016.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* T-Mobile Netherlands will shut down its over-the-top TV service Knippr on June 1, Telecompaper reports, citing a company statement. The Deutsche Telekom unit said the Dutch OTT service, which was launched in 2016, failed to reach sufficient scale, which made it challenging to improve Knippr's content offering for a low price.

* De Persgroep Publishing NV and Medialaan will be joined into a single media company with the name News City, De Persgroep said. The editorial offices of Het Laatste Nieuws, HLN.be, De Morgen, HUMO, Dag Allemaal and VTM NIEUWS will partner up in News City, and will be led by a news managing board consisting of Paul Daenen, Kris Hoflack and Kurt Minnen.

* Flemish Media Minister Sven Gatz wants to forbid fastforwarding of commercials in delayed TV watching, if the TV channels and distributors like Telenet and Proximus are not able to find a solution on the matter, HLN.be reports.

* Japanese tech giant Fujitsu Ltd. will open a Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels, aiming to accelerate development of next generation applications involving distributed ledger technologies, Fujitsu said.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Danish internet service provider Waoo A/S said its customer base grew by 40,000 fiber broadband customers in 2017, and that its pretax losses were lower than expected. Waoo had budgeted for pretax losses of between 20 million Danish kroner and 25 million kroner, but the result shows a loss of 12 million kroner in 2017. The company expects a positive result for 2018.

* Finnish operator Elisa Corp. completed a 5G-ready mobile network in the town of Tampere. It is touted as the first in Finland to enable 1-Gbps mobile broadband.

* Norwegian biometrics company NEXT Biometrics Group ASA completed the successful completion of a private placement share issue of 120 million Norwegian kroner. The company said it plans to use the fresh capital to strengthen its work with smart cards and ID solutions.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Deutsche Telekom will acquire an additional 5% stake in Greek telecom operator OTE SA for €284 million, Handelsblatt reports. OTE, the former national monopoly, is 40% owned and managed by Deutsche Telekom. Athens has offered the German operator the first refusal to buy the shares after the state failed to attract interested bidders for the said stake in OTE, Reuters reports.

* Agcom wants Facebook to clarify how third-party apps gain access to the social media platform's data for targeted political advertising, Telecompaper reports. The Italian regulator has expressed its concern that such techniques have been used "on political subjects operating in Italy."

* Elliott Advisors is said to have an additional 1.99% holding in Telecom Italia SpA through derivative contracts, in addition to the 3.75% equity stake it already owns, Reuters reports, citing a filing with Italian markets watchdog Consob.

* U.S. mobile virtual network operator FreedomPop is set to terminate its freemium plan in Spain in line with a planned tariff revamp, Telecompaper reports, citing Movilonia. The operator will also begin introducing higher rates for its other premium plans, effective May 1.

* Telecom Italia said it has appointed Pietro Scott Jovane as the company's chief commercial officer, effective mid-April. Jovane has previously served as the CEO of Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft Italia.

* Telefónica SA and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. have teamed up to roll out Big Data as a Service offerings for enterprises. The new products will be marketed under the LUCA brand, Telefónica's data unit.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Polish operator Cyfrowy Polsat SA has raised the share capital of MVNO Premium Mobile, which is operating on the network of Cyfrowy Polsat mobile unit Polkomtel, Telecompaper reports, Telko.in. The share capital of MVNO Premium Mobile was raised to 36.8 million Polish zlotys from 17.6 million zlotys in February.

* Rostelecom PJSC announced its strategy from 2018 to 2022, which includes development of products and modernization of its technological platforms. The Russian operator anticipates "to ensure attractive dividends payout in line with the announced company's dividend policy for 2018-2020" by executing these goals.

FEATURED NEWS

Telenor selling CEE assets; Spotify lowers estimate for IPO: Spotify Technology brought down its estimate of the maximum aggregate value of shares to be sold in its upcoming IPO to $444.6 million from $1 billion, while Finland acquired a 3.3% stake in Nokia.

Analysis: An FTC probe of Facebook could make waves in broader tech sector: An FTC decision to investigate Facebook's privacy protections may not have a large immediate impact on the company's financials. Yet any regulatory action could have broader implications for the tech sector.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Global markets update – Poland, Hungary, Dominican Republic, North America: Kagan has published updated Global Multichannel & Broadband analysis for three markets and one regional summary.

Daniela Latini, Amanda Kelly, 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.

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