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BT sells Spanish unit; Liberty Global, Sunrise end deal; NuCom eyes Meet Group


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BT sells Spanish unit; Liberty Global, Sunrise end deal; NuCom eyes Meet Group


* British Telecom agreed to sell its Spanish managed information and communication technology, or ICT, business to funds managed by private equity firm Portobello Capital Gestión SGEIC SA for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition includes domestic network infrastructure assets. The deal's closing is expected in the first half of 2020, subject to regulatory clearance.

* Liberty Global PLC ended talks to sell its UPC Schweiz unit to Sunrise Communications Group AG, after the company's board and biggest shareholder failed to agree on the deal's terms. Sunrise earlier paid a CHF50 million termination fee to Liberty Global.

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE unit NuCom Group is considering acquiring U.S. livestreaming solutions company Meet Group Inc., Reuters reports, citing sources. A deal is not certain at this point.

* ITV PLC and the British Broadcasting Corp.'s streaming service BritBox lacks the content and spending firepower essential in today's crowded streaming market, analysts said. By launching with previously aired programming and a small budget, the joint venture is restricting its appeal and target audience.


* Japanese advertising company Dentsu Inc. will lay off approximately 11% of its employees in seven markets under a restructuring of its underperforming international businesses. The restructuring will see workforce reduction in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Singapore and the U.K.


* Investment firm Bruin Sports Capital LLC agreed to acquire London-based sports marketing agency Two Circles Ltd. from advertising company WPP PLC for an undisclosed amount. WPP will retain a minority stake in Two Circles after deal completion.

* VividQ Ltd., a U.K. startup that develops hologram technology for displays, raised more than £3 million of fresh capital this year, London's The Daily Telegraph reports. The startup recently secured £2.4 million from venture investors, in addition to a £1 million investment from U.K.-listed fund Sure Valley Ventures.

* EBay Inc.-owned classified ads operator Ltd. is in talks to acquire Australian automotive online marketplaces Carsguide and Autotrader for less than A$100 million, The Australian Financial Review reports, citing sources.

* Plans for a high-end film production facility in Dagenham, east London, are in limbo after a Hollywood studio developer apparently halted work on the project, The Daily Telegraph reports. The studio was expected to become a creative hub that would help boost the U.K.'s production industry.

* Nicky Morgan will remain secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport in the U.K. government, the official tweeted. Morgan, who stood down as a member of the British Parliament, was made an unelected life peer in the House of Lords, Advanced Television reports.

* BBC Studios Ltd. unit BBC Studios Production tapped Claire Broughton and Leila Navabi to join its comedy audio team. Broughton previously was a development producer for Hat Trick Productions Ltd.. Leila Navabi will be a producer.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a review of sanctions on non-payment of the TV license fee, including potential decriminalization, as part of government plans, TBI Vision reports, citing Treasury Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak.


* Wu Ken, the Chinese ambassador in Berlin, said there would be consequences if Germany decides to exclude Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as a 5G equipment supplier, Bloomberg News reports. Wu said the company was under no obligation to hand over data to Beijing authorities and noted the importance of the Chinese market to Germany's car industry.

* Advertising portal operator Scout24 AG is eyeing sales proceeds of over €2.5 billion for its auto portal Autoscout24, Reuters reports. Scout24 said U.S. financial investor Hellman & Friedman LLC offered a "considerably higher" sum, but no contracts had been exchanged yet.

* German sports TV channel Sportdeutschland.TV will broadcast all games of the Handball-EM event through a live stream in January 2020, Digitalfernsehen reports. The channel joins German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF (DE), which will air the games live. Discovery Inc.'s Eurosport also secured a sublicense to broadcast the event.


* Lagardère SCA confirmed plans to sell a 75% stake in its Lagardère Sports unit to U.S. private equity firm H.I.G. Capital LLC. The deal worth about €110 million is expected to close before the end of the first quarter of 2020.

* Rakuten Inc.-owned messaging app Viber will earn a profit for the first time in its history, Les Echos reports, quoting Viber's French CEO Djamel Agaoua. Viber will record its first profits in the fourth quarter, after having a stable audience base for several years.


* T-Mobile Netherlands BV suffered a nationwide network outage Dec. 16. The outage, which led to tens of thousands of customer complaints, was resolved after 11 hours.

* Flemish public broadcaster VRT and Belgium telco Proximus agreed to renew and boost their cooperation on the distribution of VRT channels and content on Proximus' digital TV offering.

* KPN NV signed an agreement with the Dutch municipality of Wormerland to implement a fiber network in the center of Wormer, Telecompaper reports. KPN NetwerkNL will reportedly formalize the network planning at a later date.


* Canadian cloud services company TeraGo Inc. will conduct technical trials on the 24 GHz and 38 GHz frequency bands in the first quarter of 2020 using Nokia Corp.'s fixed wireless 5G millimeter wave equipment, according to a news release. Customer trials will follow in the second quarter of 2020.

* Hi3G Access AB, or Three Sweden, said it has opened Sweden's first public 5G network in Stockholm. The network has been tested and reached speeds of between 500 Mbps and 700 Mbps.

* Ericsson completed a Voice over New Radio test using a 5G-enabled device, in partnership with MediaTek Inc. The test is regarded as the first in the industry, Ericsson said.

* Swedish telecom regulator PTS is planning to open a consultation in the first quarter of 2020, in relation to new rules for a spectrum auction in the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands. The regulator now expects to hold the auction before 2020-end.

* Swedish venture capital firm Alfvén & Didrikson Invest AB has increased its holdings in Swedish podcast company Acast AB to 16% from 12%, Breakit reports.


* Google LLC advised its Turkish business partners that it cannot produce new Android phones for the Turkish market, Reuters reports. The changes come after Turkey's competition authority deemed that changes made by the Alphabet Inc. unit were not sufficient. The changes were part of an order by the Turkish regulator in relation to a September 2018 ruling that Google violated competition laws in mobile software sales.

* Telefónica SA's new unit Telefónica Tech appointed Antonio Marti as its COO, while Pedro Pablo Pérez, Gonzalo Martín-Villa and Hugo de los Santos were selected to lead its security, internet of things/big data, and cloud segments, respectively. José Cerdán will be CEO of Telefónica Tech.


* Netflix Inc. had about 3.7 million real users in Poland in November, a 21.9% increase compared to the previous month, Broadband TV News reports, citing data compiled by Gemius/PBI for Wirtualne Media. Netflix was the most-watched streaming service in November with a 13.24% share, compared to runner-up's 11.37% reach.

* A Russian court ruled to block access to English Premier League game broadcasts by Inc.'s Twitch Interactive Inc., in relation to Rambler Media Ltd.'s plan to sue the video streaming service over pirate broadcasts, Reuters reports, citing TASS. Rambler intends to file a suit against Twitch for about 180 billion Russian rubles over claims of 36,000 cases of violations, the report said, citing Kommersant.

* Russian entrepreneur Ivan Tavrin acquired a stake in mobile tower company Vertical from Baring Vostok Capital Partners Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, Broadband TV News reports, citing Kommersant. Vertical serves clients such as Mobile TeleSystems PJSC, MegaFon, VimpelCom and Tele2 Russia Telecom.

* Netherlands-based Insight TV, which provides 4K HDR broadcasts, will launch in Poland in partnership with TOYA SA, Advanced Television reports. Insight TV is currently working with TOYA Studios to localize its content.

* Russia's State Commission on Radio Frequencies will decide on the details of the auction of two lots for 5G network build-out during a Dec. 24 meeting, Telecompaper reports. Meanwhile, a decision on four other lots for the federal use of bands has been delayed.

* The Hungarian Competition Authority, or GVH, imposed a fine of about 1.18 billion Hungarian forints against Vodafone Hungary for a misleading claim in a 2015-16 ad campaign, Telecompaper reports. The fine was for the Vodafone Group PLC unit's advertisement that stated that Vodafone is "Europe's largest 4G network."


M&A Replay: Intel buys AI chipmaker for $2B; Sony unit buys Silvergate Media: Intel Corp. purchased Israel-based Habana Labs Ltd. in a $2 billion deal, while Sony Pictures Television Inc. acquired Silvergate Media Holdings Ltd.

M&A Replay: Altice Europe to sell stake in Portuguese fiber unit; Apple buys UK tech startup: A Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC-backed fund will buy a minority stake in Altice Europe's Portuguese fiber business, while Apple Inc. acquired U.K.-based startup Spectral Edge Ltd.


Economics of Advertising: Media Trends: Kagan presents its annual look at trends in media, including a focus on patterns in consumer spending on entertainment and other related services.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Marieke Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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