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PE firm buys stake in ProSiebenSat.1 unit; Telefónica keeps IPO option for O2

TOP NEWS

* U.S. investment firm General Atlantic LLC acquired a 25.1% stake in NuCom Group, in which ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE bundles its e-commerce activities, ProSiebenSat.1 said. The transaction is based on an enterprise value of €1.8 billion. Through the partnership, the company wants to accelerate growth of its e-commerce business and drive further expansion into new markets.

* Spanish telecom giant Telefónica SA is still considering an IPO for its U.K. cellphone unit O2 as competition in the British market heats up, Chairman and CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete said. Telefónica considered floating O2 in 2017 as a means of driving down debt after the European Commission quashed the proposed £10.3 billion sale of O2 to Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa, now CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., in 2016.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Union unveiled common safety rules for operating drones across the region, as part of the European Commission's Aviation Strategy for Europe. The rules employ a "risk-based" approach proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

UK AND IRELAND

* The UK Treasury wants tech companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. to pay more taxes in the country, following politicians' claims of unfair tax payments, London's The Daily Telegraph reports. The department is proposing new rules that would impose tax on money earned rather than turnover.

* The British government confirmed plans to increase the annual TV license fee to £150.50, effective April 1, the British Broadcasting Corp. said. TV license owners currently pay £147 per year.

* British multichannel broadcaster UKTV made its video-on-demand service UKTV Play available on Sky plc's NOW TV devices and Roku Inc. streaming players. UKTV is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide Ltd. and Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Apple Inc. said it will open its first Austrian store in Vienna on Feb. 24. Apple Kärntner Strasse is a two-level, 150-employee store featuring a boardroom where people such as entrepreneurs and app developers can be trained and advised by Apple team members.

* Vodafone Group Plc unit Vodafone Deutschland said it is planning to activate its nationwide narrowband internet of things network in Germany in September after it upgrades 90% of its LTE network for machine-to-machine communications over the next six months. Up to 4 billion devices will be able to be connected to Vodafone's NB-IoT network following its activation.

* Swisscom AG unveiled plans to deploy 5G by year-end if the health regulatory framework is in place. It had originally targeted 2020 for a launch but said it now plans to roll out Ericsson AB's hardware and software onto selected sites on its network during the coming months.

* Deutsche Telekom AG announced a 6.3% year-over-year increase to its total EBITDA to just under €24 billion amid record investments in Germany and a positive nonrecurring effect from U.S. tax reform.

* ProSiebenSat.1 reported its 2017 earnings, with adjusted EBITDA up 3% to €1.05 billion compared to 2016. The digital ventures and commerce division emerged as the strongest driver in growth with sales revenue up 30% to €996 million.

* T-Mobile Austria GmbH saw EBITDA rise 3% year over year in 2017 to €266 million, the company said. Meanwhile, pending approval of its takeover of UPC Austria, T-Mobile Austria said it expects to be able to start building the new integrated company in the second half.

FRANCE

* French media group Vivendi SA and Fininvest SpA, parent company of Mediaset SpA, will face off in court after mediation failed, London's Financial Times reports. The first hearing in the case, concerning Vivendi's decision in 2016 to pull out of a deal to take control of Mediaset's pay TV unit Mediaset Premium SpA, will take place Feb. 27.

* Agence France-Presse CEO Emmanuel Hoog submitted his candidacy for a new five-year term. The news agency's selection committee will hold hearings with Hoog and other candidates April 11.

* Bouygues SA announced its 2017 results. Its unit Bouygues Telecom SA posted revenues of €5.09 billion, up 6.8% from 2016, and a net profit of €260 million, an increase from €168 million in 2016. TF1 Group's revenues were €2.13 billion, up 3% compared to 2016.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* T-Mobile Netherlands plans to submit a formal acquisition request for Tele2 Netherlands at the European Commission by end-March or early April, Telecompaper reports, quoting T-Mobile Nederland CEO Soren Abildgaard. T-Mobile announced the takeover offer in December 2017, and is currently awaiting first-phase approval from the EC.

* The Council for Culture of the Netherlands advised the Dutch government to implement legislation that will force foreign streaming services, such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., to invest in Dutch productions. According to the council, new legislation is needed to stimulate the Dutch film industry.

* Liberty Global plc unit Telenet said it will terminate KotNet, a low-price internet subscription for students of KU Leuven launched in 1997, due to a need for large investments.

* T-Mobile Netherlands said it has increased its total revenue by 1.8% and its customer base by 9.1% over 2017, closing the year with a total of 3.2 million customers.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* AT&T Inc. joined forces with Ericsson to develop new professional services capabilities for IoT, according to a news release. In partnership with Ericsson, AT&T offers Global Device Certification, which includes testing, verification and assistance with regulatory approval for IoT devices.

* Ericsson said it is launching its IoT Accelerator Marketplace, which can bring together service providers and developers working on IoT services. The marketplace is both a catalog of IoT apps, and a window to an IoT ecosystem.

* Finnish game company Rovio Entertainment Oyj, which produces the "Angry Birds" games, reported revenues of €73.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 17% increase from the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was €14.1 million. Rovio's adjusted EBITDA of €14.1 million was well below the €79 million expected by analysts, E24 reports.

* Nokia Corp. achieved download speeds of 1.3 Gbps in tests of its commercial technology with Licensed Assisted Access, in partnership with T-Mobile US Inc.

* Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon launched its preschool streaming app Nick Jr. Play in Denmark, TBI Vision reports. The app is offered by TDC A/S unit YouSee A/S.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telefónica struck a new commercial wholesale deal with Orange SA for fiber-optic network assessment. The deal, which is an extension of the companies' 2016 agreement, allows Orange to assess Telefonica's fiber-to-the-home network in nonregulated areas defined by the current regulation.

* Infrastructure fund F2i and tower company Rai Way SpA have augmented their joint offer to acquire Telecom Italia SpA's stake in Persidera, Telecompaper reports, citing two sources. The amount of the new offer remain undisclosed. However, one of the sources said it still does not meet the Italian operator's valuation for the unit of about €350 million. F2i and Rai Way have previously offered €250 million.

* In response to press reports, Italian company Tiscali SpA denied any knowledge of alleged deal talks with Fastweb SpA, including reported acquisition of Tiscali shares by the Swisscom unit, according to Reuters.

* MásMóvil Ibercom SA and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. are preparing for the rollout of their joint pay TV offer within the next few weeks, in partnership with TV content company Agile Content SA, Advanced Television reports. Huawei will provide an Android set-top box with content from Sky and Atresmedia for a monthly fee.

* Spanish regulator National Commission on Markets and Competition has begun to investe Mediaset España and Atresmedia over potential anticompetitive practices in the TV advertising market in Spain, Reuters reports.

* Telefónica and Huawei agreed to collaborate on 4.5G and will assess the technology in Bogotá, Monterrey and Rio de Janeiro in the next few months.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Poland's Cyfrowy Polsat SA has added a package called Ipla HBO to its Ipla subscription video-on-demand service, which will cost 35 Polish zlotys a month, Broadband TV News reports. The new offering will feature a number of HBO and AXN channels.

* The advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union recommended to bring Orange Polska SA to the General Court to allow a re-examination of the arguments, Telecompaper reports. The Orange unit has disputed a penalty imposed by the European Union over allegations that the operator blocks access to third-party sites on its network.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires: AutoWeb COO steps down; Alliance MMA names president: William Ferriolo resigned as executive vice president and COO of AutoWeb, while Alliance MMA appointed Ira Rainess company president.

Hires and Fires Europe: Deutsche Telekom renews CEO's term; Orange retains chief executive: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: State of Netherlands online video: Subscription: The subscription online video market in the Netherlands is still growing, with approximately 45% of internet homes subscribing to one or more services, compared to only 28.8% for western Europe.

RECENT EARNINGS

Deutsche Telekom CEO: Liberty, Vodafone deal in Germany 'unacceptable': Deutsche Telekom's CEO warned that Vodafone's prospective acquisition of Liberty Global's cable assets in Germany risks creating a "monopoly" in the country's cable TV market.

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, 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.