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European deals through March 24: Vodafone, Nokia, Facebook

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


* Vodafone Group Plc reached an agreement to merge its Vodafone India unit with Idea Cellular, according to a March 20 news release. Under the merger's terms, Vodafone will own 45.1% of the combined entity, after transferring 4.9% of its stake to the Aditya Birla Group for 39 billion Indian rupees in cash. Idea will own 26% and its other shareholders will own 28.9% of the combined company. The companies agreed to have an equal shareholding in future, giving Aditya Birla Group the right to acquire more shares from Vodafone. Deal closing is anticipated in 2018.

M&A Media

* Talpa Holding increased its stake in Telegraaf Media Groep NV, to 26.98% from 26%, reported March 25. Talpa's move came after an email from De Telegraaf's editorial board urging Talpa to stop its takeover battle and the Enterprise Court's decision to deny Talpa an investigation into possible maladministration at TMG.

* The European Commission is reviewing Facebook Inc.'s reply to charges that it provided misleading information regarding its bid for WhatsApp Inc., Reuters reported March 22, quoting EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

* Altice NV said March 21 that it acquired online video advertising marketplace Teads for up to €285 million, with 75% of the price due at closing and the remaining 25% earn-out payable in 2018. The terms will be subject to Teads hitting revenue targets in 2017.

M&A Communications

* Yes Telecom, an independent subsidiary of KPN NV, acquired business telecom provider Vrieservice, according to a March 24 official statement.

* Vivendi SA's decision to back out of its proposed acquisition of Mediaset SpA's pay TV unit Mediaset Premium has negatively impacted the Italian broadcaster's 2016 accounts by €100 million, Advanced Television reported March 24. Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi also denied talks with the French media conglomerate about a new deal.

* Vivendi and Mediaset earlier filed defamation suits against each other in Milan, London's Financial Times reported March 21. This follows Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine accusing Mediaset of misleading the company during negotiations on their €880 million deal to acquire 3.5% of Mediaset and 100% of Mediaset Premium.

* Serbia's Competition Commission greenlit Serbia Broadband's acquisition of cable operator IKOM, Telecompaper reported March 23. The approval, however, requires Serbia Broadband to disinvest, in a timely manner, from a parallel secondary network infrastructure in Belgrade, due to overlaps with IKOM.

* Nokia Corp. said March 22 that it secured all necessary regulatory clearances for a tender offer by its unit Nokia Solutions and Networks Oy to acquire Finnish software company Comptel Corp. for about €347 million. The voluntary public cash tender offer will run until March 29 unless extended. Deal completion is still subject to other conditions stated in the offer document.

* MegaFon struck a deal with VEON's Russian unit Beeline to acquire a 50% stake in mobile retail chain Euroset, Telecompaper reported March 22, citing Vedomosti. Beeline will pay 1 billion Russian rubles to MegaFon as part of Euroset's debt and get 2,000 retail shops, in exchange for MegaFon owning 100% of Euroset.

* SKY Network Television Ltd. and Vodafone NZ have filed an appeal to the High Court of New Zealand against the Commerce Commission's decision to reject their proposed merger. SKY said March 22 that they filed appeals within the statutory time period "to preserve their rights" while they wait for details of the competition regulator's full reasoning for rejecting the deal. The Commerce Commission blocked the merger in February, saying the resulting entity would have a monopoly on premium sports content.

* Elisa Corp. said March 20 that it entered into an agreement with IT company Santa Monica Networks Group to acquire the latter's operations in Finland and Estonia for €28 million. Elisa expects the transaction to be completed by May 1. Meanwhile, Santa Monica's units in Latvia and Lithuania will be acquired by Baltic private equity firm Livonia Partners.

* Modern Times Group said March 17 that it is selling its business in the Baltic countries to asset management firm Providence Equity Partners, which owns Lithuanian and Latvian mobile operator Bite. MTG's free TV, pay TV, digital and radio businesses in the Baltics are valued at €115 million in the transaction.