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Spotify files antitrust complaint against Apple; MTG agrees to sell NOVA stake

In this monthly Best of Nordics feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent market developments in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

TOP NEWS

* Spotify Technology SA on March 13 said it filed an anti-competition complaint against Apple Inc. with the European Commission. Daniel Ek, the company's chairman and CEO, accused Apple of introducing "unfair" rules to the App Store that limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of user experience, according to a March 13 official blog post. In a response to Spotify, Apple in a March 14 statement, accused Spotify of wrapping its "financial motivations in misleading rhetoric" about the iPhone-maker and how it supports independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators.

* Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group said Feb. 22 it has agreed to sell its 95% stake in Bulgaria-based NOVA Broadcasting Group AD to Advance Media Group, in a deal that puts Nova's enterprise value at €185 million. The transaction is expected to be completed during the second quarter, subject to regulatory approval.

M&A

* Telia Co. AB said March 15 that it informed the European Commission of its intent to acquire Bonnier AB unit Bonnier Broadcasting. The EC is expected to review the acquisition, including potential competition concerns. After the first phase of the review, which may take about 25 days, the EC may either approve the transaction or extend the investigation process.

* Accenture PLC on March 5 announced that it has agreed to acquire Hjaltelin Stahl K/S, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based creative agency. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Private equity investor Nordic Capital's Nordic Capital Fund IX entered into an agreement for the purchase of Conscia A/S, a Denmark-based security and networking infrastructure specialist, from the latter's management and Axcel Management A/S. The parties agreed not to disclose any financial terms of the deal, Nordic Capital said March 1.

* Ericsson will acquire Germany-based Kathrein SE's antenna and filters business, according to a Feb. 25 news release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to customary conditions and approvals.

* Funds managed by FSN Capital Partners AS agreed to sell their remaining 6.23% stake in Netcompany Group A/S for about 674.2 million Danish kroner under an accelerated bookbuild. FSN Capital GP IV Ltd., which acts as general partner for the FSN-managed funds, will sell 3,113,381 Netcompany shares to institutional investors at 216.55 kroner per share, according to a Feb. 20 statement.

INTERNET, OTT AND MOBILE

* The U.S. government is pressuring Germany to bar Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from building the country's 5G telecom network infrastructure by warning that using Chinese-made equipment could jeopardize intelligence-sharing between the U.S. and Germany, The Wall Street Journal reported March 11, citing a letter from U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to the German Economics Minister. Instead, Grenell suggested Ericsson, Nokia Corp. or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. would be more suitable 5G network partners.

* Spotify has launched in India with upgraded features and a catalog of over 40 million local and international songs, the company said in a Feb. 26 news release. Among customized India-specific features are multilanguage music recommendations that factor in the diverse dialects of the country. The launch happened shortly after Spotify accused Warner Music Group Corp. of "abusive behavior" after the record label filed an injunction that prevents the audio streaming service from accessing Warner/Chappell Music Inc.'s catalog in India, Variety reported Feb. 25.

* Sprint Corp. plans to launch its commercial 5G service in May, the company said Feb. 25. Sprint is field-testing standards-based 5G in multiple markets, including in Los Angeles with Nokia and in Atlanta with Ericsson.

CONTENT, CARRIAGE AND LICENSING DEALS

* "Angry Birds" maker Rovio Entertainment Oyj has teamed up with Swedish game studio Resolution Games AB for the development of mobile augmented reality game "Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs," according to a news release. The new game is now available for preorder on Apple's App Store and will be available globally by the spring.

* Nordic Entertainment Group AB has signed a multiyear agreement with NBCUniversal LLC, renewing its exclusive content deal with the U.S. media company, according to a March 11 news release. The company has also secured a new three-year deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., according to a separate announcement. Nordic Entertainment also said TDC A/S' YouSee A/S and Stofa A/S will continue to offer the Viaplay streaming service and five TV3 channels after NENT extended its content agreement with the two Danish companies.

* Spotify and Hulu LLC have teamed up again for a discounted premium bundle. Costing $9.99 per month, the plan will let Spotify subscribers access Hulu for free, according to a post on the company's website.

OTHER NEWS

* Microsoft Corp. is expanding the availability of Microsoft AccountGuard, a cybersecurity service, in 12 new markets across Europe amid threats of hacking activity targeting democratic institutions, think tanks and nonprofit organizations in Europe. Some of the new European markets that the Microsoft service is available at includes Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Tom Burt, corporate vice president of customer security and trust, said in a Feb. 20 blog post.

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