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Canal Plus to acquire M7 Group; EQT fund offers to buy Australia's Vocus Group

TOP NEWS

* France-based Canal Plus SA, a unit of Vivendi SA, has agreed to acquire pay-television operator M7 Group SA for slightly more than €1 billion, Bloomberg News reports. Vivendi said the acquisition of M7 Group will add more than €400 million in revenue and increase profit for both the company and Canal Plus, the news outlet noted, citing a company statement. The deal, subject to the European Commission's approval, is expected to close in September.

* EQT Infrastructure, a fund managed by private equity firm EQT Partners AB, submitted a nonbinding offer to acquire all of the shares in Australian telecom operator Vocus Group Ltd. for A$5.25 per share in cash. The total offer price is A$3.3 billion, Reuters reports.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Starz has made its premium streaming service Starzplay accessible via a channel on Apple Inc.'s Apple TV app to customers in Europe and Latin America.

* Streaming service DAZN has secured broadcast rights to Major League Soccer games in Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland for four seasons until 2022, Rapid TV News reports.

* Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm has blamed Europe's inability to prioritize the rollout of 5G services for its failure to keep abreast of the global technology race, The Daily Telegraph reports.

UK AND IRELAND

* Negotiations between ITV PLC and the British Broadcasting Corp. have grown tense about their funding commitments for their joint streaming service BritBox, London's Financial Times reports, citing sources. Only ITV has vowed to invest £65 million in BritBox by end-2020, while the BBC is reportedly prioritizing its own iPlayer service.

* Microsoft Corp.'s European headquarters in Ireland has assumed control of company operations in Asia-Pacific, Dublin's The Irish Times reports, citing filings for Microsoft Ireland Operations Ltd. The tech giant reportedly shifted €47.1 billion of assets from Singapore to Ireland as part of the move.

* British telecom regulator Ofcom has unveiled a draft decision requiring British Telecom's infrastructure unit Openreach Ltd. to also open up access to its broadband network to firms serving large businesses and fiber infrastructure operators.

* Vodafone Group PLC has teamed up with esports company ESL to launch the Vodafone 5G ESL Mobile Open from May 31 to Sept. 29. The event is touted as the first global 5G-based mobile sports tournament.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. plans to invest in research jobs in Switzerland, Swissinfo reports. Over 1,000 new research jobs within IT, nanotechnology and other relevant sectors would be created in line with the plans.

* Germany's Gigabit Region Stuttgart GmbH has signed a cooperative agreement with Deutsche Telekom AG. The agreement aims to expand high-speed internet in the region and addresses gaps in the mobile network.

* Convergence Partners AG is looking to raise €150 million for its first fund targeting technology companies, WSJ Pro reports. A document reviewed by the publication indicates Convergence may set a cap of €200 million for the fund, which aims to help technology companies in Switzerland, Germany and Austria expand in China.

* An alliance of five German telecom organizations has called on the government to consider proposed legislation to ensure 5G network expansion across rural areas in the country.

FRANCE

* ARCEP has launched a public consultation to identify which areas in France are still considered high-speed radio network projects for the planned 5G frequency release in the autumn. Following the consultation, the French telecom regulator may adjust the frequency allocation procedures for THD radio.

* Lagardère SCA has signed an agreement for the sale of its television division, excluding Mezzo, to Groupe M6 for an enterprise value of €215 million, payable on the definitive completion date.

* Canal Plus and Altice France SA announced an agreement that allows the latter's pay-TV broadcaster RMC Sport customers to access all English Premier League matches for the next three seasons until 2021-2022.

* Private national French TV channel M6 (FR) announced a major management reorganization of its M6, W9 and 6ter channels, M6 Publicité and Communication departments, as well as the creation of an audio business unit.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* T-Mobile Netherlands BV is launching Voice over LTE services for its customers, which would improve call quality and enables customers to call and use 4G internet or WiFi at the same time. The service is initially available to subscribers of the Go Plan.

* Dutch operators KPN NV and E-Fiber are teaming up to roll out a fiber-optic network in Deurne town, following a consultation with the local government, TotaalTV reports. While the telecom providers will install separate networks, the rollouts will happen simultaneously.

* U.S.-based security solution provider Fortinet Inc. has signed a contract with Amsterdam-based shipping company Spliethoff Group, Emerce reports. Under the contract, all ships from Spliethoff Group will be equipped with a Fortinet Next Generation Firewall for extra security.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC plans to invest about €600 million in a new data center in Hamina, Finland, to match the growing demand for its services, Reuters reports. The data center will be Google's second in the city.

* Activision Blizzard Inc., which owns Swedish-founded game production company King Digital Entertainment PLC, said King CEO Riccardo Zacconi is stepping down. He will take over as chairman of King's board.

* Ice Group ASA reported smartphone services revenues of 288 million Norwegian kroner in the first quarter, a 12% increase from year-ago figures. Total operating revenue was 457 million kroner.

* Sweden is the leading country in Europe in the number of patents in the Industry 4.0 segment, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office said. Tech giant Ericsson accounts for 83% of the Industry 4.0 patents, which includes smart connected products and services for the internet of things.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Italian state lender Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA is considering a sale of its stake in wholesale broadband operator Enel Open Fiber SpA to Telecom Italia SpA, Reuters reports, citing Il Messaggero. The potential deal could reportedly lead to creating a single fiber broadband operator by combining the networks of Telecom Italia and Open Fiber, the latter jointly owned by CDP and utility provider Enel SpA.

* Greece-based grid operator Independent Power Transmission Operator SA, or ADMIE, has opened tenders for the construction of two undersea cables from Crete to mainland Attica, Reuters reports, citing the country's energy ministry. The project is estimated to cost around €915 million and is anticipated to be completed by 2022.

* The Portuguese government intends to free up frequency bands from digital terrestrial TV operations in the country and allocate it for 5G, Telecompaper reports, citing Deputy Secretary of State and Communications Alberto Souto de Miranda. The state also plans to unveil a national 5G coverage strategy in September.

* Italy's Clouditalia Telecomunicazioni SpA has appointed Bernardo Marzucchi as CEO, Telecompaper reports. In addition to the new role, Marzucchi will also continue serving as the company's general manager.

* Italian regulator Agcom has imposed a €2.4 million fine against Sky Italia Srl for failing to provide complete information about the difference between its 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 Sky Calcio packages, as well as the penalty-free cancellation clauses, Telecompaper reports. Sky PLC owns Sky Italia.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Slovenian telecom operator T-2 has agreed to take over cable TV operator Inatel for an undisclosed sum, Telecompaper reports, citing Sta. The transaction remains subject to approval by the competition agency.

* Russian streaming service Megogo.net announced that it is launching Stories, a new video format of entertainment and educational content on its mobile app. The sets of video clips will be based "on the most interesting fragments and facts" from TV programs and shows, as well as films.

* The Federal Antimonopoly Service is objecting to a proposed creation of a single 5G operator in the country, Telecompaper reports, citing Kommersant. The Russian regulator argues that such a move could hurt competition in the country.

* Vodafone Ukraine plans to join in the tender for 5G frequency bands in the country, Telecompaper reports, citing Chief Security Officer Yevgeniy Bulakh's statement to BizLigaNet. Meanwhile, Lifecell LLC, together with Ericsson's Ukrainian unit, has installed a 5G demo-segment in Kiev, which has reached speeds of 25.6 Gbps on the 28 GHz band, according to a separate Telecompaper report.

* The Polish government has filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice against the copyright rules approved by the Council of the European Union in April, Reuters reports. Poland argues that the new rules may cause preventive censorship.

* Branko Mitrovic has been appointed as the new CEO of Telenor Montenegro MNR, replacing Sandra Steiner, effective July 1, Telecompaper reports. Prior to his new position, Mitrovic has been serving as a board member at the PPF Group NV unit.

FEATURED NEWS

M&A Replay: Sky, Mediaset pay TV deal conditionally approved; Tencent buys Sharkmob: The Italian antitrust watchdog has granted conditional approval to Sky Italia's proposed acquisition of Mediaset's digital pay TV platform R2, while Chinese internet giant Tencent acquired Swedish game developer Sharkmob.

Data Dispatch: Disney dusts off Aladdin's lamp, hoping to find new magic: While a live-action remake of "Aladdin" is not expected to be the blockbuster home run that some of Disney's other live-action remakes were, forecasters expect a strong bow.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Axiata-Telenor merger would form largest telco group in emerging Asia-Pacific: Malaysia's Axiata Group Berhad and Norway's Telenor ASA announced on May 6, 2019 that they are planning to merge their telecommunications assets and operations in South and Southeast Asia.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Charlotte van Hek and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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