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Zuckerberg snubs UK testimony request; MTG completes Trace sale

TOP NEWS

* Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg declined British lawmakers' request to be questioned after he was threatened with a formal summons earlier this month. Rebecca Stimson, head of public policy at Facebook U.K., confirmed Zuckerberg would not travel to the country but said the company is committed to cooperating with British regulators. The request follows the fallout from Facebook's links to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which personal data from millions of Facebook users was used without their consent, and ahead of the May 25 implementation of new privacy controls in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation.

* Modern Times Group AB has completed the sale of its 75% stake in media entertainment management company Trace Partners SAS to TPG Growth for €30 million. MTG said the sale reflects the company's ongoing transformation, and that it will result in a preliminary net capital gain of 58 million Swedish kronor.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Commission is calling on the leaders of the European Union member states to fulfill the necessary steps to complete the Digital Single Market strategy before the year ends. EU member states are requested to ensure that the rules agreed on data protection and cybersecurity are enforced and to take actions on the necessary investments on technologies, such as 5G and artificial intelligence.

UK AND IRELAND

* Cambridge Analytica LLC, the now-defunct political data analytics firm, is facing an investigation from the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, The New York Times reports, citing sources familiar with the inquiry. The probe is reportedly focused on Cambridge Analytica's financial dealings and how it harvested personal data from about 50 million Facebook user profiles.

* Virgin Media Ireland and TV3 secured exclusive rights in Ireland to broadcast selected matches of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League over the next three years, beginning in August. The rights deal covers all Wednesday UEFA Champions League games, all Thursday UEFA Europa League games and the finals of both tournaments.

* British cybersecurity company Darktrace Ltd. could reach a valuation of $1.25 billion after two of its early investors sold some of their shares in a secondary sales, Bloomberg News reports, citing a source. European private equity firm Vitruvian Partners reportedly bought the shares.

* British Telecom said BT Sport will broadcast the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in late May for free over the BT Sport channel on YouTube, the BT Sport app and the btsport.com website.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Kaspersky Lab ZAO will transfer its core infrastructure, such as customer data storage and processing, to Switzerland from Russia. Kaspersky products' source codes and software updates will also be reviewed in a Swiss transparency center.

* Germany's Federal Network Regulator intends to move the schedule of its auction for 5G spectrum to early 2019, from the original plan to hold it this year, Reuters reports, citing Handelsblatt. The German government anticipates billions of euros being generated from the auctions to be able to upgrade the national broadband network.

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE will launch broadcasts in 4K HD upon its premier of shows "Galileo Spezial" and "Rosins Restaurants." Content can also be accessed through ProSiebenSat.1's digital services, such as the channels' web-streaming and red button service. A 4K/UHD and HDR-capable TV is required to receive UHD content.

* Vodafone Group PLC unit Vodafone Germany reported a 10.7% year-over-year rise in EBITDA to €4 billion for the 2017-2018 financial year amid customer growth. Excluding special effects, EBITDA increased 8.3%. Vodafone expects a slowdown in underlying profit growth this year, as the company faces growing competition in key markets such as Spain and Italy.

* Deutsche Telekom AG launched a range of end-to-end internet of things bundles for enterprise customers aimed at making the space more accessible. The bundles include hardware, cloud storage and a web portal. Connectivity is also included, although Deutsche Telekom did not specify which kind.

* German cable operator Tele Columbus reported revenues of €123.4 million for the first quarter of 2018, a 2% year-over-year increase. Tele Columbus said it was partially revising its full-year targets for 2018 due to a slow start in the first quarter.

FRANCE

* Iliad SA released first-quarter results with consolidated revenues of €1.2 billion, up 0.8% year over year. The group affirms its expectation to reach an EBITDA margin for the group in France of more than 40% in 2020 and a balance of EBITDA investments exceeding €1 billion from 2020 onward.

* Iliad shares dropped 20% following the publication of its first-quarter results, the lowest level in five years, and a drop in the number of fixed-line subscribers, Le Figaro reports. Newly appointed CEO Thomas Reynaud said new fixed-line offers should be launched in the next few days and mobile offers in the next four weeks.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch public broadcaster NPO's fund is opening eight new schemes for drama and documentary productions as a pilot for 2018 and 2019. NPO Chair Shula Rijxman said the fund should support innovation to adapt to customers' rapidly changing media usage.

* NPO also said it will broadcast the 2018 FIFA World Cup live in Ultra HD.

* IT specialist Team4Talent BBVA, a unit of Harvey Nash Group's Talent-IT, acquired Flemish software consultant eMenka NV, knack.be reports. Financial details were not disclosed.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Telia Co. AB has entered a partnership with Swedish online car marketplace Wayke to develop new digital services for cars. The cooperation will contain several joint innovations to simplify car ownership, car sales and accessibility and new AI solutions.

* Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said its 1,700 employees in the Norwegian Journalists' Union are on strike. Almost all journalists in the company are on strike, and all radio and TV channels, as well as NRK's website, will offer very reduced services.

* Ericsson has tested 4G LTE technology over the Citizen Broadband Radio Service band, in partnership with Verizon Communications Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Federated Wireless Inc. The test was done in Verizon's live commercial network in Florida. The CBRS band has mostly been used by the U.S. government for radar systems.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Greek pay TV operator Nova has renewed its content deal with Time Warner Inc.'s HBO, giving the Forthnet SA unit access to HBO's series and films, Broadband TV News reports. The content will be accessible on Novacinema channels and on Nova On Demand and Nova Go services.

* The Andalucía Audiovisual Council has revealed the presence of about 121 illegal digital terrestrial TV frequencies in Andalucía, Spain, Advanced Television reports. Signals of satellite TV channels have been pirated and their content are offered on the illegal DTT market.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Russian operator Amedia TV has appointed Dmitriy Sychugov CEO, Telecompaper reports, citing Tdaily.ru. Yelena Kirshyunova, formerly digital director at Vedomosti, has been appointed as Amedia's executive director.

* Mobile TeleSystems PJSC has increased its stake in online retailer Ozon to 16.66% from 13.65%, Telecompaper reports, citing Prime. The transaction's value was undisclosed.

* VEON Ltd.-controlled Beeline eyes plans to allot about 6 billion Russian rubles to meet antiterrorism requirements, Telecompaper reports. Expenses are estimated to total about 45 billion rubles in the next five years.

FEATURED NEWS

Vodafone's outgoing CEO: 'techlash' should be seen as an opportunity for telcos: Vodafone's outgoing CEO, Vittorio Colao, said the recent backlash against technology companies, or "techlash," would serve as an opportunity for mobile operators as calls grow for more regulatory scrutiny of the big tech and social media giants.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: State of Portuguese online video: Subscription: Portugal is one of the three markets with the lowest adoption rates of subscription online video services in Europe. The ratio of subscription video-on-demand subscribers to broadband homes is approximately 5%.

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

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