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Sky, Telefónica extend UK mobile deal; Cellnex Telecom stake up for sale

TOP NEWS

* Sky PLC has agreed to extend its existing mobile partnership with Telefónica SA, which will see the latter's unit Telefónica UK Ltd. continuing to provide the network for mobile virtual network operator service Sky Mobile. The two companies will also work together on 5G trials and launching, with Sky customers getting 5G access once Telefónica has activated the service.

* Italy's Benetton family is poised to sell its 29.9% stake in Spanish telecom towers operator Cellnex Telecom SA to Singapore's GIC Pvt. Ltd. and the United Arab Emirates' Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, two sources told Reuters. Talks are in the advanced stages but the parties have yet to reach a deal.

UK AND IRELAND

* U.K. broadcaster Sky dismissed suggestions that aggressive sports rights acquisitions by intermediary groups such as Eleven Sports Network Ltd., Mediapro and Perform Group Ltd. could pose a threat to the pay TV giant.

* Virgin Media Inc. has invited broadcasters and media companies to bid for slots currently occupied by channels from broadcaster UKTV, as the two sides are so far still failing to reach a new carriage deal, London's The Guardian reports. The Liberty Global PLC unit is reportedly preparing to find new channels that will permanently replace UKTV-operated channels on its TV lineup.

* Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said the cable giant injected funds between €10 million and €15 million into TV3 to help drive a turnaround for the Irish broadcaster, Dublin's Irish Independent reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Sky Deutschland GmbH said its revenues in Germany and Austria rose 6% in the fiscal year through June 30 to £2.02 billion on a constant currency basis, up from £1.91 billion in the previous year. Customer growth, greater product penetration and record levels of advertising spending helped boost the company's revenues through June.

* Swiss telecom provider VTX Services announced the acquisition of Abalon Telecom IT AG and Zirkumflex, which offer telecom and IT services to small and medium-sized companies.

* Telefónica Deutschland GmbH has set up or upgraded more than 3,000 LTE stations across Germany in the first half.

* The European Commission has approved €120 million of state aid to support a broadband project in Austria's Oberösterreich region. The funding will be given to regional public authorities for the deployment and management of the broadband network.

FRANCE

* Orange SA published first-half results with revenues of €20.26 billion, up 1.7% year over year, and an adjusted EBITDA of €5.98 billion, up 3.3% compared to the first half of 2017.

* Orange CEO Stéphane Richard said the consolidation of the telecom market in France is inevitable, Le Figaro reports. Richard said the arrival of 5G could lead operators to join forces.

* NRJ Group SA published 2018 half-year results with revenue of €193.2 million, a 3.9% increase year over year, and EBITDA excluding barters of €27.6 million, a 40.1% annual increase. Net profit group share was €11.3 million, up 85.2% year on year. The company separately announced the cancellation of 310,225 treasury shares representing about 0.4% of its capital.

* Groupe M6 completed the sale to Albelli Group of 100% of the share capital of monAlbumPhoto SAS for an undisclosed amount. M6 said the e-commerce photo printing site generated €30 million in sales in 2017.

* The French Senate called for a massive rejection of the proposed "fake news" bill, Les Echos reports. Two committees will submit a motion to reject the draft without a debate.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Shares of NXP Semiconductors NV fell as much as 7.5% in morning trading of July 26 following a significant miss in second-quarter net income and after Qualcomm Inc. scrapped its plan to acquire the Dutch chipmaker. The company said net income attributable to stockholders rose to $54 million, or 16 cents per common share, in the quarter that ended July 1, from $49 million, or 14 cents per common share, in the year-ago period.

* NXP Semiconductors CEO Rick Clemmer said the company will not consider any more big acquisitions after its two-year bid to sell to Qualcomm fell through and left its management team "fatigued and tired" by the regulatory process, London's Financial Times reports.

* Telenet said activist shareholder Lucerne Capital's demand for the Liberty Global-owned operator to explain before Aug. 1 is "not fair or reasonable," Telecompaper reports, citing De Tijd. The explanation sought by Lucerne is in relation to its requested changes in governance in the Belgian operator.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Spotify Technology SA, the parent entity of Spotify AB, reported an operating loss of €90 million, corresponding to 7% of total revenue, in the second quarter of 2018. Total revenue was about €1.3 billion, a year-over-year increase of 26%. Spotify also said it now has 180 million monthly active users, a growth of 30% since the second quarter of 2018, and 83 million Premium subscribers, a growth of 40%.

* Spotify has no plans to strengthen its margins by negotiating cheaper licenses from record companies, DI Digital reports, citing CEO Daniel Ek. Instead, the company aims to increase earnings by developing tools that artists and record companies will pay for, Ek said.

* Ericsson has teamed up with NTT Docomo Inc. and Japanese glassmaker AGC to demonstrate 5G through glass-mounted antennas on vehicles traveling at high speed. The partners have achieved speeds of 8 Gbps over the 28-GHz band, with a vehicle traveling at 100 kilometers per hour.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Former Telecom Italia SpA CEO Marco Patuano has been named as the chairman of Cellnex Telecom, Telecompaper reports. Patuano is replacing Tobias Martinez, who will remain as the company's CEO.

* Telecom Italia has extended its partnership with Lega Serie A for another three seasons until 2021. The Italian operator will become the title sponsor of the Italian top soccer championship and of all the Primavera competitions organised by Lega Serie A.

* Telefónica reported revenues of €12.1 billion during the second quarter of 2018, down by 6.3% during the year-ago period. The company's operating income before depreciation and amortization totaled to about €4.24 billion in the second quarter, representing a 1.9% year-over-year increase.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems PJSC and over-the-top service Megogo.net have introduced a joint subscription offering, which will provide mobile users various content, including 130 Russian and foreign TV channels, as well as 8,000 films, serials and cartoons in HD quality, Broadband TV News reports.

* Orange Romania's Home TV customers will have access to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches, beginning on Sept. 21 and Sept. 20, respectively, Telecompaper reports. The matches to be offered by the Orange unit will be available on the Look TV HD and Look Plus channels, and can be accessed on TV, through the Orange Home TV satellite and fibre, as well as on laptops and smart phones.

* The Court of Justice of the European Union has rejected Orange Polska SA's appeal over the €127.6 million fine imposed by the European Commission to the operator, Telecompaper reports. The fine related to Orange Polska's abuse of its dominant position in the wholesale broadband access market before October 2009.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires: Nielsen CEO to retire; Paramount TV CEO fired: Mitch Barns, Nielsen Holdings' CEO and a member of the board, will retire from the company at year-end, while Amy Powell has been fired as CEO of Paramount unit Paramount TV.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Belgium mobile projections, 2018-2028: Belgium subs are slow to expand as the subscriber base moves into postpaid bundled plans while prepaid and MVNO subs continue to fall.

RECENT EARNINGS

Spotify Q2 promotions boost subscribers by 40%, though net loss widens: In its second quarterly report as a public company, Spotify saw its subscriptions jump 40% thanks in part to new promotional efforts. That said, the company fell deeper in the red.

Nielsen's stock falls after Q2 earnings miss, lowered second-half expectations: Nielsen Holdings' stock tumbled by more than 20% after the company missed second-quarter expectations and executives lowered financial guidance for the rest of the year amid weakness in global markets and fallout from regulatory changes in Europe.

Nokia shares slide as Q2 profit falls 68% YOY: Nokia's net profit attributable to shareholders shrunk to €144 million in the second quarter from €449 million a year earlier on a non-International Financial Reporting Standards basis.

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

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