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Big Tech may face tougher UK rules; Pearson exits book publisher; EE expands 5G

TOP NEWS

* The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said there is a "strong argument" for tougher rules that would govern how companies such as Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC and Facebook Inc. use consumers' personal data in their online advertising services. The findings are part of the CMA's interim report on competition in the digital advertising market. Google and Facebook said they would work with the CMA and the British government on the matter, Reuters reports.

* Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA will become the sole owner of Penguin Random House LLC after agreeing to acquire Pearson PLC's remaining 25% stake in the book publisher for about $675 million. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020. Pearson also announced that John Fallon is retiring as CEO in 2020 after the appointment of his successor.

* British Telecom unit EE Ltd. launched next-generation 5G wireless service in the U.K. cities of Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland, bringing its total coverage map to 50 cities and large towns. EE also switched on its first 5G sites in Northampton, Stevenage and Wakefield.

* Reelgood's universal streaming guide is launching in the U.K. in the first quarter of 2020 as part of an exclusive partnership with LG Electronics Inc., S&P Global Market Intelligence has learned. The deal will see the South Korean electronics manufacturer feature the Reelgood app on the home page of its smart TVs.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Nvidia Corp. is expected to win an unconditional approval from the European Union antitrust regulators for its $6.9 billion acquisition of Mellanox Technologies Ltd., Reuters reports, citing sources. The European Commission is slated to make its decision Dec. 19.

* CGI Group Holdings Europe Ltd., a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of CGI Group Inc., completed its acquisition of SCISYS Group PLC's issued and to be issued share capital. SCISYS, predominantly based in the U.K. and Germany, provides services in various sectors, such as space and defense, as well as media and broadcast news.

* Discovery Inc.'s Eurosport teamed up with the Fédération Internationale de Ski and Infront to broadcast alpine skiing events in ultra HD across Germany, Austria and Russia. In addition, Eurosport partnered with Bridgestone to provide multiscreen coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games across Europe.

UK AND IRELAND

* U.K.-based content publisher Future PLC launched Next TV, a digital brand and website that covers the streaming business. Next TV features editorial and video content on the services, programming, people, platforms and technology in the streaming business.

* The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority banned British American Tobacco PLC and three other e-cigarette companies from posting ads about their vaping products on public Instagram pages, London's The Guardian reports. ASA rules prohibit advertising of unlicensed e-cigarettes.

* China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. will invest €6 million in Irish software research center Lero, as part of a four-year program aimed at improving the reliability of software apps, Dublin's The Irish Times reports.

* Bain Capital Private Equity LP made a significant investment in A Cloud Guru Ltd. through its Bain Capital Tech Opportunities fund. The investment was part of A Cloud Guru's purchase of cloud computing training platform Linux Academy Inc.

* Liberty Global PLC unit Virgin Media deployed ultrafast broadband services in New Edlington, Doncaster, in line with its Project Lightning initiative.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Salt Mobile SA targets to roll out 5G in the first half of 2020, Telecompaper reports, citing CEO Pascal Grieder's interview with Finanznachrichten. The Swiss operator's 5G network is still in a test phase.

* Deutsche Telekom AG will partner with various enterprises and universities across Europe to develop new 5G apps. The technologies will be based on the telco's campus network solutions.

* German political party SPD remains skeptical of Huawei and plans to exclude the company from the country's 5G expansion, Computerbase reports. The party said the Chinese manufacturer should be excluded from the build-out.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel was unaware that Chinese authorities made threats if the country were to exclude Huawei from its 5G network, Reuters reports. Last week, the Chinese ambassador to Germany said the country could retaliate if the manufacturer were to be excluded.

* German internet company 1&1 Drillisch AG agreed to lease two frequency blocks of 10 MHz each for its 5G network with Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG. The contract lasts until 2025.

FRANCE

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. is seeking the assistance of Singaporean state investor GIC Pte. Ltd.. and other sovereign funds to help rescue a deal to purchase up to a 30% stake in Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group Inc., Reuters reports, citing sources.

* The M6 ​​Group acquired broadcast rights to Europa League and the Europa Conference League games for the 2021-2022, 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 seasons. The company will exclusively air the best match of each day for the Europa League, as well as the final for each of the two competitions, for a total of 16 games per season.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* The Dutch Consumers Association, or Consumentenbond, has broadly reached an agreement with KPN NV, T-Mobile Netherlands BV, Tele2 Netherlands NV and VodafoneZiggo about a compensation for sold subscriptions with "free" mobile phones. The group took the four operators to court because they found the sale of these packages to be misleading.

* Telecom provider T-Mobile Netherlands suffered a network outage for the second time this week, NU.nl reports. Internet services did not reportedly work for many users in the Amsterdam region.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Ericsson deployed a cloud-native container-based evolved packet core for 4G and 5G services, in partnership with Australian operator Telstra Corp. Ltd. The packet core is fully integrated into Telstra's mobile core network and is carrying live 4G and 5G non-stand-alone traffic.

* Finland-based digital advertising company Smartly.io Inc. secured a majority investment of €200 million from funds advised by Providence Equity Partners LLC. The company has been an official Facebook Marketing Partner since 2014.

* Danish IT company cBrain A/S won a contract to provide a professional system based on its process engine, for use within a federal authority in the United Arab Emirates.

* Swedish telecom regulator PTS said there have been several cases of unauthorized users being able to listen to the voicemails of Tele2 AB customers. PTS started an investigation into Tele2's practices for protecting customer information.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* An Italian law that prohibits Vivendi from holding a 28.8% stake in Mediaset SpA is contrary to European Union rules, an adviser to the bloc's top court said. Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona told the Court of Justice of the European Union that the law limited the "freedom of establishment," or the right of companies from other EU member states to enter Italy's media sector.

* Greek operator Wind Hellas Telecommunications SA received nonbinding offers from private equity funds BC Partners, Warburg Pincus LLC and Providence Equity Partners, Telecompaper reports, citing Naftemporiki.gr, which reported from leaked information. WIND Hellas set a Dec.18 deadline for the submission of proposals.

* Altice Portugal SA agreed to begin the migration process for digital terrestrial TV to the sub-700 MHz band on Feb. 7, 2020, Advanced Television reports. MEO, which owns the DTT network, decided on a July 24, 2020, deadline, but Portuguese regulator National Communications Authority indicated a June 30, 2020, deadline for the migration.

* Portuguese operator NOS SGPS SA launched a 5G research and development investment fund to support the development of 5G-based applications, such as virtual reality, smart cities and the internet of things, Telecompaper reports.

* Unidentified people used an "open door" on the website of Spanish state-owned broadcaster TVE to air an interview with Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Russia Today, Reuters reports, citing a spokesman. Russia Today was not involved in the suspected hacking incident, according to Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

* Telefónica SA created an autonomous unit for its Latin American operations, which will be managed by a dedicated executive team. The telecom operator tapped Alfonso Gómez to become CEO of Telefónica Latin America.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Russia's Rambler Media Ltd. withdrew its allegation that Twitch Interactive Inc. illegally showed English Premier League games, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the Amazon.com Inc. unit. No financial settlement was made between the parties. Russian regulator Roskomnadzor will no longer block Twitch in relation to the dispute, BBC News reports, citing TASS.

* Russian search engine company Yandex unveiled an intelligent search update called Vega, which brings 1,500 improvements to Yandex Search. Part of the improvement in Yandex Search includes an updated ranking algorithm with expert assessments and improvement in the quality of search results.

FEATURED NEWS

Analysts consider 5G race more marathon than sprint: Top U.S. carriers and phone-makers spent 2019 racing to deploy 5G mobility services and smartphones, but analysts say the new technology is still years away from achieving its full potential.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Technology: Cloud fuels hyperscale data center expansion: Hyperscale data centers are the backbone supporting the rapid expansion that cloud providers are carrying out today.

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

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