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Offer for Telefónica unit; Disney+ in Europe; TalkTalk/CityFibre deal


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Offer for Telefónica unit; Disney+ in Europe; TalkTalk/CityFibre deal


* A consortium of undisclosed investors is offering €10 billion for a 51% stake in Telefónica SA's Latin American operations, excluding Brazil, Total Telecom reports, citing El Mundo. The Spain-based telco would reportedly retain a stake of up to 25% if the deal pushes through, with the remaining shares to be divided among minority shareholders.

* The Walt Disney Co. moved the European launch of its streaming service Disney+ forward a week to March 24. The new launch date applies to the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Spain. Disney+ will be rolled out next in Belgium, Portugal and the Nordic countries by the summer.

* TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC agreed to sell its fiber network, FibreNation, to CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. for about £200 million. Part of the deal is a long-term wholesale agreement with TalkTalk for residential and business products in the locations where CityFibre builds networks.

* Vodafone Group PLC is stepping back from Facebook Inc.'s Libra Association, becoming the eighth member of the group to abandon the cryptocurrency project, CoinDesk reports, citing a statement from a Libra representative. The U.K.-based telecom operator will instead put the resources it had planned for Libra into its digital payment service M-Pesa.


* Alphabet Inc.'s YouTube LLC appointed Alex Okosi managing director of emerging markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Digital TV Europe reports. Okosi was previously executive vice president and managing director at ViacomCBS Inc. units ViacomCBS Networks Africa and BET International.


* Vodafone said it restructured its agreement with infrastructure provider CityFibre Infrastructure to facilitate its rollout of full-fiber broadband in the U.K. Under the new deal, the telecom company will offer its Vodafone Gigafast Broadband on a rolling, 12-month exclusive basis while the service is rolled out in 12 towns and cities covered in the deployment's first phase.

* The British government will push through with its plan to introduce digital tax amid warning of potential retaliation from the U.S., London's Financial Times reports, citing a spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The U.K. intends to design the taxation scheme "in a proportionate way," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

* ViacomCBS-owned free-to-air TV network Channel 5 (UK) agreed to broadcast highlights of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.'s weekly programs "Raw" and "SmackDown" in the U.K. on weekends, beginning Feb. 2. The partnership will also see Channel 5-programmed Paramount Network airing the show "NXT UK" on Wednesday midnights.

* Discovery Inc. rebranded its Home channel to HGTV in the U.K., Worldscreen reports. The move comes after the U.S. media company announced an upcoming launch of HGTV in 12 European countries.

* Channel 4 (UK) appointed Miketta Lane as 4Creative's head of production and operations. Lane, who will report to Chief Marketing Officer Zaid Al-Qassab, will be in charge of production and finance-related aspects of its on-air and off-air campaigns.

* U.K.-headquartered Synamedia inked an agreement with USSI Global to serve customers in the U.S. Under the deal, USSI will provide support, as well as fulfillment and deployment services for Synamedia video network customers.


* Chinese livestreaming platform HUYA Inc. canceled its acquisition of a minority stake in Turtle Entertainment GmbH, or ESL, the Germany-headquartered esports business of Sweden's Modern Times Group Mtg AB. The parties also agreed to terminate negotiations over an esports joint venture. According to MTG, differing views between the parties on the allocation of contractual risk and other key commercial terms are the primary reasons for the termination of the agreement.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc is backing a stance requiring companies rolling out Germany's 5G network to be politically independent in their home country, Reuters reports, citing a senior conservative. The chancellor wants strict security requirements for the country's 5G network, but does not want to exclude individual companies.

* Digital security company Kudelski SA said it entered into a patent license agreement with digital content distributor fuboTV Inc. The deal's financial terms are undisclosed.

* The Cologne Administrative Court is consulting the European Court of Justice in relation to Deutsche Telekom AG's legal dispute on StreamOn tariffs. The European Union court is to decide whether a ban on video throttling will be compatible with EU law, reports German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

* German broadcaster Sat.1 headhunted Mark Land as head of entertainment, reports German media magazine DWDL. Previously, Land was head of producers at RTL Group Germany SA.


* France agreed to postpone collection of advance payments of its digital tax due in 2020, Le Monde reports. U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to suspend any further escalation in the dispute over France's digital tax during ongoing negotiations with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The talks are set to continue until the end of the year. According to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, talks between France and the U.S. about digital tax "remained difficult," Reuters reports.

* Stéphane le Tavernier resigned as president of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.'s French unit with immediate effect, Les Echos reports. The company said in an internal memo that le Tavernier's replacement will be announced shortly.

* Vivendi SA's Canal Plus Group SA obtained the rights to broadcast Formula One in France until 2022, according to information obtained by L'Equipe. Canal Plus has broadcast all Grand Prix seasons since 2013.

* Canadian independent IT and business consulting services company CGI Group Inc. completed the acquisition of France-based Meti Logiciels et Services SRL through one of its European subsidiaries. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


* Dutch cable operator Ziggo NV's shutdown of analog broadcasts will take place in Leeuwarden, Drachten and Heerenveen on the night of March 9, Telecompaper reports. This is the latest region on the Ziggo network to switch to all-digital services, since the transition started in March 2018.


* Malaysian telecommunications conglomerate Axiata Group Bhd. is not revisiting a proposed merger with Norway-based Telenor ASA, The Malaysian Reserve reports, citing a source familiar with the matter. In response to the media reports, the source said there are no new deal talks between the parties and all recent news of a possible merger are "unsubstantiated rumors."

* UpCloud Ltd. raised about €18 million in new funding to drive its international expansion. The new cash will be used to recruit around 100 additional employees and to utilize over 10 new third-party data centers in Europe, Asia and North America.

* Smartphones in Norway will need to have access to location data in the Galileo navigation system by March 2022, according to the Norwegian Communications Authority. The access date conforms to agreements reached and approved by the European Economic Area and European Union.


* Telefónica is seeking buyers for its global educational unit Telefónica Educación Digital, in line with its strategy of selling off noncore assets, Telecompaper reports, citing El Español.

* The European Commission's Directorate General for Competition is due to decide Feb. 21 on Telecom Italia SpA and Vodafone Italia SpA's plans to merge Vodafone Towers Srl into Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane SpA, according to the commission's website.

* French operator Iliad requested an Italian administrative court to void a 5G network-sharing deal struck by Swisscom AG unit Fastweb SpA and Wind Tre SpA, Reuters reports, citing a document. The court will hold its first hearing on the matter Feb. 12, while it will rule in merit Oct. 7 whether to allow Iliad to participate in the agreement.

* An Italian judge set a new hearing on Feb. 1 for Vivendi's request to halt the merger of Mediaset SpA's Italian and Spanish units into a Netherlands-based holding company, Reuters reports, citing legal sources. A Spanish court provisionally suspended the proposed reorganization, which Vivendi claims would tighten the grip of controlling shareholder Silvio Berlusconi on Mediaset.

* Telecom Italia's global unit Telecom Italia Sparkle SpA began the construction of its fourth data center in Greece. The facility, which is expected to commence operations by early 2021, will offer about 6,000 square meters of colocation space.


* Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Maksut Shadaev minister of telecommunications as part of an overhaul of his cabinet, reports Reuters. Shadaev had been vice president of public telecom company Rostelecom PJSC.

* Orange SA unit Orange Polska SA will continue testing its 5G network after Polish regulatory body Urzad Komunikacji Elektronicznej extended the operator's 5G testing permit until the end of February, Telecompaper reports.

* Tele2 AB unit Tele2 Latvia rolled out commercial 5G services in Jelgava and Daugavpils, according to Telecompaper. The operator already has a 5G base station in Latvian capital Riga.

* Antenna Hungária Zrt. will run frequency swaps at its 91 digital terrestrial sites in Hungary on Feb. 4, which will result in complete downtime of all digital terrestrial television channels and sites between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., according to Broadband TV News.

* Belarusian national operator Beltelecom changed its internet protocol television services' channel lineup for its internet protocol television services, adding three Russian channels under trial for its subscribers, reports Telecompaper.


5G Focus: Global telco partnership; Rogers, Sky Mobile rollouts; ZTE investment: 5G Focus is a weekly global feature including notable 5G trials, launches, use cases and major equipment supply contracts. It also features in-depth analysis of strategies, expansion plans, business models and other related initiatives.

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Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Marieke Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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