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EC approves Hutchison's Wind Tre buyout; Vectra revives Multimedia Polska bid

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31.


* The European Commission has approved VEON's sale of its 50% stake in Wind Tre SpA to CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. Under the terms of the approval, Hutchison will take over pre-existing commitments that were previously provided by VEON and Hutchison upon the creation of Wind Tre in 2016, according to an Aug. 31 news release. The EC approval is the final authorization required for completion of the transaction.

The required approvals of the Italian regulatory authorities have previously been obtained. VEON expects to complete the transaction by Sept. 7.

* Polish cable operator Vectra SA has notified the country's Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, or UOKiK, of its intention to acquire Multimedia Polska SA, Broadband TV News reported Aug. 29. The two parties, which signed a term sheet for the deal's conditions, said they are in talks about the provisions of a preliminary share purchase agreement, subject to approval from the UOKiK president.

The merger can create a market leader to take on the current largest cable company, UPC Poland, Wirtualnemedia reported Aug. 29. Vectra attempted to buy Multimedia in October 2017, but the deal did not get the green light from the UOKiK. The current deal is more likely to get the necessary approval as it would not create monopoly-like market conditions. If approved, the merged entity would serve around 1.6 million cable TV subscriptions, in comparison to Liberty Global PLC's Polish unit with 1.2 million subscriptions.

M&A media

* Midmarket private equity firm LDC (Managers) Ltd. provided a growth investment in conference and exhibition events company FC Business Intelligence Ltd. through a management buyout. FC Business has its headquarters in London's Shoreditch district but operates worldwide.

M&A communications

* French aerospace and defense giant Thales SA's proposed acquisition of Dutch digital security firm Gemalto NV has received antitrust regulatory approval from the Turkish Competition Board, the two companies said Aug. 31. Thales and Gemalto have now obtained five of the 14 regulatory clearances required for the deal, including earlier antitrust clearances in China and Israel, and clearances relating to foreign investments in Australia and Canada. The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2018, shortly after receiving all regulatory clearances, the companies said.

* VEON said in an Aug. 31 filing that it may withdraw its $2.55 billion offer to acquire selected Pakistani and Bangladeshi assets from Global Telecom Holding SAE anytime. VEON's filing comes shortly after Global Telecom released an announcement on the same day, Aug. 31, that the acquisition offer may not meet the required 66 2/3% vote from its shareholders.

* Sky PLC's independent committee is seeking a per-share offer of £14.59 from Walt Disney Co., The Panel on Takeovers and Mergers said Aug. 29. However, a shareholder group including activist investor Elliott Advisors (UK) Ltd. contends that Sky must have a revised offer price of £15.01 per share.

* Volkswagen AG bought a minority stake in mobility technology development firm FDTech GmbH in line with its strategy to integrate highly automated driving in next-generation VW vehicles, the German carmaker said in an Aug. 29 release. Friedrich Eichler, head of chassis development at VW, said the company plans to combine FDTech's "innovative power with our performance capabilities as a global mobility company." The news comes a week after the automaker announced its €3.5 billion investment into a "digitalization offensive" through 2025 that will combine vehicle production with service provision.

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