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Vivendi, Telecom Italia in pay-TV JV; Altice forms new unit

TOP NEWS

* Vivendi SA CEO and Telecom Italia SpA Executive Chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine confirmed plans for a pay-TV joint venture between the Italian operator and Canal Plus Group SA, Digital TV Europe reports. De Puyfontaine said the plan would be submitted to Telecom Italia's control and risk committee before being submitted to the telco's board for approval.

* Altice NV unit Altice USA Inc. said it brought together its LightPath, Cablevision/Optimum and Suddenlink Communications business brands to create Altice Business, a national provider of data, voice, video and managed services for business customers. By creating Altice Business, Altice USA is standardizing its product offers across its U.S. markets, with managed Wi-Fi and cloud backup the first services to be included.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Chinese ride-hailing service provider Didi Chuxing announced it would invest and collaborate with Taxify OÜ, a ride-sharing company operating in Europe and Africa. Didi Chuxing will invest an eight-figure U.S. dollar sum into its the Estonia-headquartered partner, according to Techcrunch. Taxify provides taxi- and car-hailing services in 18 countries, including Hungary and Romania.

UK AND IRELAND

* Amazon.com Inc. has nabbed exclusive broadcasting rights for the ATP World Tour in the U.K. from Sky plc after reportedly bidding as much as £10 million a year, higher than Sky's current £8 million a year deal, London's The Guardian reports. Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the U.K. will have access to men's tennis matches. Sky's deal ends in 2018.

* Three UK is set to launch a 5G development-focused network renovation, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of pounds annually for a number of years, the U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph reports, citing industry sources. The CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. unit has invited equipment vendors and service providers to bid for the project.

* The U.K.'s finance ministry has proposed creating a new fund to ensure British startups have access to funding outside the European Investment Fund once the U.K. leaves the EU, according to a news release. The European Investment Fund, part of the EU-backed European Investment Bank Group, provided about £800 million of equity finance and £400 million of other assistance to British companies in 2016, Reuters reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German media company MAIRDUMONT GmbH & Co. KG and RTL Deutschland announced a merger of their subsidiaries MairDumont Media and Netletix to become a joint venture called MairDumont Netletix. The companies plan a fusion of their marketing competencies and technological expertise.

FRANCE

* Groupe M6 has signed an agreement with the French Higher Audiovisual Council to remove capping imposed on the voting rights of shareholders solely or jointly owning more than 34% of the capital in Métropole Télévision SA. According to a news release, the agreement begins Jan. 1, 2018.

* RTL Group led the Series A investment in Israel-based virtual reality startup Inception, according to a news release. It will hold a minority stake of 15.01% in the company. As part of the deal, the company will provide virtual reality programming and distribution capabilities to RTL Group.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* KPN NV has dropped its data limit on mobile broadband services in rural areas, reports Tweakers. The limit termination means that customers in those areas receive unlimited internet for €39 per month, and those who are already subscribed to KPN's fixed line can add the service for no additional cost.

* Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay has chosen Dutch IT service provider Comarch to develop its new loyalty management platform and a mobile application, according to a press release. Hudson's Bay will shortly be opening 10 department stores in the Netherlands.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Swedish venture capital firm Cevian, controlled by activist investor Christer Gardell, increased its ownership in Ericsson AB to 6.36%, from 5.45% in mid-June, Realtid reports. Cevian's voting power in Ericsson has increased to 3.8% from 3.2%.

* Telenor ASA unit Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. said it appointed Kamal Ahmed as its new chief corporate affairs officer effective Aug. 7.

* Nokia Corp. announced it is broadening its focus into multiple areas of early 5G mobility use cases, including enhanced mobile broadband. The company said it will push for 3GPP industry standardization, and that it will build on early experiences with its Nokia 5G FIRST end-to-end solution, which was launched in February.

* Swedish tech company Tobii AB announced it is continuing its cooperation with Microsoft Corp., which is building support for eye tracking into the Windows 10 operating system. Tobii's Eye Tracker 4C will be the first product to support the new function.

* The founders of Danish media company Newsio News Aps have acquired the shares of investor Lars Seier and venture fund Seed Capital in the company, Børsen reports. The reason is a disagreement connected with a new investment round, where Newsio hopes to bring in US investors.

* South Korean online games company Nexon Co. Ltd. and Finnish mobile game studio Grand Cru Oy teamed up to launch role-playing game "Battlejack" on mobile devices, according to a news release. The game, with a mythical fantasy theme, is inspired by the card game blackjack.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Vivendi proposed amendments on plans to reduce its influence in Mediaset SpA, Reuters reports, citing Italian telecom regulator AGCOM. The update comes after it emerged that the French media group's original plan to limit its voting rights in Mediaset to 9.9% was not enough to dispel antitrust concerns, according to a separate Reuters report.

* The Spanish government blocked Viacom Inc.'s entry into the country's digital terrestrial TV business by rejecting the latter's plans to purchase a 25% stake in a DTT license held by multimedia group Vocento, Advanced Television reports.

* A joint venture between Italian infrastructure fund F2i and equity fund Marguerite acquired an 89.8% stake in Italian broadband provider MC-link SpA for €50.5 million, Telecompaper reports. The deal follows the joint venture's earlier acquisition of Verona-based fiber optic operator Infracom Italia SpAin June for €57.8 million.

* Vodafone Group Plc unit Vodafone España SAU rolled out the Bares package, an offering service for bars and restaurants that includes coverage of La Liga soccer matches, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and several motorsport events, Digital TV Europe reports.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service opened a probe into MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems PJSC, Tele2 Russia and VEON unit Beeline for continuing to charge for roaming services nationwide and in Crimea, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru. The watchdog wants the operators to end the roaming charges.

* Digi Communications CEO Serghei Bulgac has been also indicted in a case in Romania over alleged money laundering, in relation to the grant of TV rights to Liga 1 soccer matches, Telecompaper reports, citing a company statement. Digi unit Romania Cable Systems & Romania Data Systems and its subsidiary Integrasoft were also among those earlier indicted in the case.

* Marcin Palkowski is taking over as Netia SA SA's chief technology officer, Telecompaper reports, citing Telko.in. Palkowski will succeed Jacek Wisniewski, who is stepping down after an eight-year stint with the Polish operator.

* Comarch SA, the Poland-based IT services and solutions provider, has opened an office in Tokyo. Comarch Japan will focus on developing and selling IT systems for financial and insurance companies.

FEATURED NEWS

Tech Time: SoftBank invests in US tech; Microsoft, Baidu ink self-driving deal: In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a bi-weekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.

Q&A: Former Ofcom director: 'Focus on speed gradually decreasing': Amid sweeping regulatory change and the looming impact of Brexit, S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke with William Webb, a former director at British regulator Ofcom.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Charlotte van Hek 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.