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Vivendi to put Mediaset stake in blind trust; Vodafone completes stake transfer

TOP NEWS

* Vivendi SA agreed to transfer its holding in Mediaset SpA above a 10% threshold to a blind trust, ahead of a possible stake sale, Digital TV Europe reports, citing Italian press reports. The move follows a decision by Italian communications regulator AGCOM that the French media group could not hold majority stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia SpA at the same time. Vivendi, however, is simultaneously appealing AGCOM's ruling.

* Vodafone Group Plc unit Vodafone International Holdings BV completed the transfer of a 35% stake in Kenyan operator Safaricom Ltd. to Vodacom Group Ltd., according to a news release. The deal brings 233.5 million new shares into Vodafone's unit in sub-Saharan Africa. Vodafone will maintain an indirect stake of 5% in Safaricom.

UK AND IRELAND

* Tim Carter, CEO of production company Twenty Twenty Television Co. Ltd., is joining ITV Studios Ltd.'s factual label Shiver as its managing director in 2018, according to a news release. Carter will remain with Twenty Twenty until his successor has taken over his post. Twenty Twenty is owned by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Television Production UK, while ITV Studios is the production arm of ITV Plc.

* Liberty Global plc unit Virgin Media Ireland is seeking to win students and contract-averse customers with the launch of Freedom TV, a television service that requires only a 30-day notice to cancel, Dublin's The Irish Times reports. The new offer comes with 20 channels and access to the Virgin TV Anywhere mobile app.

* The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee of the National Assembly for Wales published its report on the future of Welsh public broadcaster S4C. Among the suggestions are: an agreement on S4C's service levels that is tied to funding arrangements, a regulatory framework under British media watchdog Ofcom, and replacing the current S4C Authority with a unitary board similar to that of the British Broadcasting Corp.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE is considering launching one or more new thematic channels in partnership with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., following the companies' programming deal which was signed earlier in 2017, Digital TV Europe reports. The existing deal allows Scripps Networks' programs to air in branded blocks on several ProSiebenSat.1-owned channels.

* The Federation of German Consumer Organisations, or Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, announced legal action against tariffs by telecommunications company O2, because certain customers have not automatically received free roaming. The roaming charges were scrapped effective June 15 across the EU.

* Information management solutions company Hyland Software Germany GmbH announced a strategic partnership with German management consulting company Hanselmann & Compagnie. The alliance focuses on international businesses based in Germany which require assistance with their digital transformation.

FRANCE

* Okidoki, a new subscription video-on-demand service featuring children's content, has debuted in France, Digital TV Europe reports. The service, developed by digital services company Alchimie, is offered free of charge for two months for Samsung TV owners, after which a subscription fee will be charged.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch regional fiber operator OnsBrabantNet has started to migrate customers to the systems of KPN NV, which acquired OnsBrabantNet in 2012, Telecompaper reports. Since the acquisition, the provider has continued to use its own brand and service platforms, yet has now connected triple-play customers to the one from KPN.

* Copyright watchdog BREIN has reached a settlement with a dealer of stolen login details of various streaming platforms for the amount of €10,000. The 26-year-old man operated an online shop where he sold subscriptions for various online streaming platforms for a fraction of the real price, after which his customers got access to the legitimate accounts of others.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* The CEO of Swedish online shopping and delivery service Urb-it AB, Fredrik Warstedt, is stepping down after only three months, Di Digital reports. Warstedt's resignation comes as Urb-it is reorganizing and implementing efficiency measures, in a bid to save 30 million kronor annually.

* TDC A/S is using subcontractors which are accused of social dumping, DR reports. In the upgrading of TDC's network to gigabit capacity, a subcontractor is using employees who are not being paid the same as equivalent Danish employees. TDC has apologized and said that the company now demands that the employees are covered by Danish labor agreements.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Vivendi denies "de facto control" over Telecom Italia, the French company said. Vivendi cites an Italian law stating the company's insufficiency to exercise effective control over the Italian operator. The company also said that its exercise of "management and coordination activities" at Telecom Italia does not signify control over the operator.

* Enel Open Fiber SpA Chairman Franco Bassanini said his company would be in a good position to buy Telecom Italia's network, Reuters reports, citing Bassanini's interview with La Stampa. It comes as the idea of transferring the network to a state-controlled entity is again gaining support as it would enable a faster rollout of a fiber broadband network in Italy.

* Spain's Telecable de Asturias SAU launched Tedi4K, an Android-based 4K UHD set-top box that will be offered for free to new subscribers, Telecompaper reports. The device includes rewind and seven-day catchup features.

* Orange SA's Orange España will be offering access to La Liga coverage to subscribers of Orange TV Cine y Series bundle for €1 a month, effective Sept. 1, Telecompaper reports. The content package includes access to live soccer games of La Liga's first and second divisions and of the Copa del Rey.

* Cosmote SA's Cosmote TV service acquired the rights to broadcast Primera Liga matches for the 2017-2018 season, Telecompaper reports. Subscribers can watch the games via Cosmote TV Go and Cosmote Replay TV.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Telia Co. AB unit Telia Lithuania agreed to fully acquire data transfer services provider Data Logistics Center from its owners Lietuvos Energija and Litgrid for an undisclosed amount. The deal is anticipated to be completed by early 2018, pending clearance from the Competition Authority.

* Nokia Corp. has formed a subsidiary in Lodz, Poland, that will be in charge of design and construction of fiber optic networks in central and northeastern Poland, Telecompaper reports, citing Telko.in. The new unit, Iris Telecommunication, aims to hire about 200 to 250 employees within 12 months.

* Foreign ownership of Polish media assets may be trimmed to a maximum of 15% as members of the Law and Justice party plan to introduce a new law that would tackle media ownership in the country, TBI Vision reports, citing local media reports.

FEATURED NEWS

M&A Replay: European deals through Aug. 5: Discovery, Axel Springer, Scripps Networks: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from July 31 to Aug. 5.

M&A Replay: Nielsen buys Israeli AI startup; Discovery buying Scripps Networks for $14.6B: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of U.S. companies' media and communications deal announcements and completions from July 31 to Aug. 4.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Entrance of Virgin Mobile, 5G trials to shake mature UAE telecom duopoly: Due to a duopoly, prices for internet connectivity in the UAE are some of the most expensive services in the region. Penetration of 4G is estimated to be low with only 20% of total mobile subs, or 3.8 million mobile subs, using 4G in 2016.

Global Multichannel: Eastern European fixed broadband connection speeds on the rise: More than 25% of Eastern European households subscribe to fixed broadband services with average connection speeds faster than 15 Mbps, representing a large and growing number of potential customers for UHD TV service over broadband.

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.