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European deals through Dec. 16: 21st Century Fox, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone

The European edition of M&A Replay presents a weekly wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates.


* 21st Century Fox Inc. and Sky plc have agreed to the terms of a recommended pre-conditional cash offer, which represents a value of about £11.7 billion, for the fully diluted share capital of the European pay TV operator that Fox does not own. Fox said Dec. 15 that it expects the deal to close before the end of 2017. The transaction is subject to a number of pre-conditions and conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of Sky's shareholders.

* Fox will pursue a so-called scheme of arrangement route to ensure a smooth takeover of an almost 61% stake in Sky plc that the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company does not already own, the Financial Times of London reported Dec. 13. Fox will need approval from the U.K. High Court to carry out the transaction model.

M&A Media

* Modern Times Group completed the sale of its free-TV broadcasting and production subsidiaries in Ghana and Nigeria to Econet Media Group, the Swedish company said Dec. 16. Meanwhile, MTG's sale of its free-TV broadcasting business in Tanzania to Econet Media is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approval in the country.

* The Italian government and the country's telecom regulator AGCOM have stepped into Vivendi SA's move to acquire a 20% holding in Italian broadcaster Mediaset SpA. Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda said the government does not like the timing and methods used by Vivendi in building its stake in Mediaset, Reuters reported Dec. 16, citing a source close to the matter. Meanwhile, AGCOM said Vivendi's move could violate an Italian law that prohibits electronic communications firms with a market share of more than 40% to control more than 10% of large TV, radio and publishing firms such as Mediaset, Digital TV Europe reported that same day.

* A consortium led by U.S. investment firm General Atlantic Inc. bought a majority shareholding in Hemnet AB, according to a Dec. 16 news release. Hemnet is a Swedish online real estate classifieds platform.

* Johnston Press plc unit Johnston Publishing Ltd. is selling Johnston Publishing East Anglia Ltd. to Iliffe Media Ltd. for £17 million, according to a Dec. 16 news release. The deal includes 13 publications and associated websites in East Anglia and the East Midlands.

* The Russian Orthodox Church increased its 51% stake in religious channel Spas to 100% after the exit of several minority shareholders such as Gennady Lysak, one of the channel's founders, Broadband TV News reported Dec. 16, citing Kommersant.

* German distributor Beta Film acquired a minority stake in Lineup Industries, Screen Daily reported Dec. 13. The Dutch television formats company will continue to operate independently while assisting Beta Film with light entertainment and formats.

* Discovery Communications Inc. unit Discovery Polska acquired a 49% stake in Green Content, owned by Polish media firm Agora, for 14 million Polish zlotys, Broadband TV News reported Dec. 12, citing Wirtualne Media.

* Cimpress NV said Dec. 12 that it struck a deal to acquire National Pen Co. LLC, a San Diego-based manufacturer and marketer of custom writing instruments for small and medium-sized businesses, for about $218 million. The transaction is expected to close by the end of December, subject to various closing conditions.

M&A Communications

* United Internet AG agreed to acquire German internet service provider Strato AG for about €600 million from Deutsche Telekom AG, according to a Dec. 15 news release. The transaction will be made via a holding structure to be established as part of an investment of private equity firm Warburg Pincus in United Internet.

* German carmaker Volkswagen AG said Dec. 15 that it made a strategic investment in Berlin-based e-mobility platform Hubject GmbH. The investment will enable Volkswagen to push through with plans for the digital interconnection of charging stations for electric vehicles, beginning in early 2017.

* Nokia Corp. agreed to acquire American real-time analytics company Deepfield Inc., the former said Dec. 15. Deepfield specializes in the delivery of real-time analytics for IP network performance management and security.

* The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets approved T-Mobile Netherlands' acquisition of Vodafone Thuis, Telecompaper reported Dec. 13. The European Commission had set the sale of Vodafone Thuis as a requirement for greenlighting the proposed merger between Vodafone Group Plc unit Vodafone Nederland and Liberty Global plc's Ziggo NV.

* Elisa Corp. will pay €151 million in cash to buy 100% of Estonia-based broadband and cable TV firm Starman AS, Elisa said in a Dec. 13 statement. The shares were bought from Starman's Nordic owners Polaris Invest and Com Holding.

* Polish mobile network services benchmarking firm Systemics-PAB Sp zoo completed the acquisition of Belgian company Commsquare BVBA, according to a Dec. 12 statement. Commsquare offers benchmarking, network optimization, mobile data monitoring and analytics solutions.