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Netflix in France; Telenor/Axiata talks; Vodafone, BT on Chinese companies


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Netflix in France; Telenor/Axiata talks; Vodafone, BT on Chinese companies


* Netflix Inc. CEO Reed Hastings officially unveiled the company's new French headquarters in Paris, home to 40 employees in film, TV and marketing. Netflix also announced an increase in investment in France, with 20 new French productions and partnerships with leading French creative institutions.

* Norway's Telenor ASA and Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd. are in talks again about a potential transaction involving wireless telecom company Axiata Group Bhd., Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Some of the scenarios being explored include Telenor buying part of the wealth fund's 37% stake in Axiata.

* British Telecom and Vodafone Group PLC are planning to express their view to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that banning Chinese equipment manufacturers in the U.K. will stunt the country's digital economic growth, Sky News reports. The CEOs of the British operators are mulling to draft a letter to be sent to Johnson. London's The Guardian reports that Johnson is likely to allow the use of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s equipment in the U.K. for 5G development.

* The U.K.'s biggest internet provider hopes to boost its broadband revenue by targeting speed- and data-hungry gamers with a new bundle that includes Google LLC's Stadia cloud gaming service. It is the first European distribution deal for Stadia. As part of an agreement, British Telecom is offering the Google Stadia Premiere Edition to customers on three of its high-end fiber and top-speed broadband plans, with prices starting from £40 per month. Alphabet Inc. owns Google.


* European Union antitrust regulators are working on measures to police digital assistants following reports that Inc. listened in on people's conversations with Alexa, Bloomberg News reports, citing Tine larsen, the head of data protection authority in Luxembourg. Bloomberg quoted an Amazon statement saying that they "manually review and annotate a small fraction of 1% of Alexa requests."

* EU Commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said that tougher security measures will not cause delays in 5G roll out in Europe, Reuters reports, quoting the official as saying. Breton said that Europe is "on track" and will not be late in 5G deployments.

* Endemol Shine International executives Matt Creasey, executive vice president of sales and acquisitions together with Mark Lawrence, executive director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Simon Cox, head of acquisitions, took over the responsibilities of company CEO Cathy Payne, TBI Vision reports. The change comes after Payne stepped down from her role at the Endemol Shine Group Ltd. unit.


* Accenture PLC completed the acquisition of Clarity Insights from private equity firm Riordan Lewis & Haden Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.

* ITV Studios Ltd.' The Garden Productions Ltd. appointed former Channel 4 (UK) Commissioning Editor Nicola Brown as director of programs starting in March. Brown will help in expanding The Garden's slate. ITV PLC owns ITV Studios.

* Pacific Dataport will use U.K.-headquartered satellite company OneWeb Ltd.'s communications services across Alaska under an agreement between the parties. Pacific Dataport is scheduled to launch the OneWeb services as early as the fourth quarter of 2020.

* Simon McDougall, executive director at the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office, said that the Internet Advertising Bureau is developing guidance for companies and organizations in the adtech real-time bidding in relation to security and data handling. As part of the initiative, Google will also remove content categories and improve its process for auditing counterparties.

* Zinc Media Group PLC announced that it raised about £3.5 million of new investment, which the U.K. factual production company will use for its expansion plans.


* Apple Inc. is expanding its Munich offices to house 1,500 members of staff until 2021, reports German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Apple's office, called Bavarian Design Center currently houses around 300 engineers.

* Phlexglobal Inc. bought Munich-based Cunesoft GmbH, which provides cloud-based intelligent regulatory data management software and services for the life-sciences market.

* German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung acquired a majority stake in content marketing and digital agency 3st kommunikation GmbH through its content marketing subsidiary FAZIT-STIFTUNG Gemeinnützige Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. German company 3st has about 80 employees.


* Isabelle de Silva, president of French antitrust watchdog Autorité de la Concurrence, told Reuters that Facebook Inc.'s $22 billion buyout of WhatsApp Inc. should have been blocked, saying that tech giants "create their value today" by collecting and exploiting data. De Silva will join in plans for a regulatory overhaul to be led by EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

* France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is hoping to get a commitment from the U.S. in relation to international tax reform for digital companies during the World Economic Forum, reports Reuters. The French government is also hoping the U.S. will step back from its threat of tariffs made in retaliation against France's own digital tax.

* Eutelsat Communications SA's Eutelsat Konnect satellite launched into Geostationary Transfer Orbit by Arianespace using an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

* Frédéric Bereyziat, deputy director general of the Cinémathèque Française, has been appointed as director of management and coordination, and board member at Arte France SA. Bereyziat succeeds Olivier Guillemot and will take on the role in early April. Laurent Clerc, current CFO of ARTE France, will act as interim until then.

* Iliad will repurchase 11,666,666 of its own shares, amounting to about 19.7% of its share capital, for €1.4 billion or €120 per share, according to a company press release.


* Dutch navigation systems maker TomTom NV tapped Huawei to install its maps in smartphone apps, reports Reuters, citing the Netherlands-based company's spokesman Remco Meerstra.

* Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile Netherlands BV introduced an unlimited 5G-ready subscription, which includes 4G mobile data and calls in the EU, as well as 5G as soon as it is available, for €37.5 a month. The operator expects the first 5G compatible mobile devices to enter the Dutch market in the first quarter, and states that the Netherlands is scheduled to be the first to roll out a countrywide 5G network.

* T-Mobile Netherlands further announced that it plans to connect at least 100,000 households to the fiber network in 2020, in a partnership with Primevest Capital Partners. The telecom provider states that it focuses on locations currently lacking a fiber network.


* Spotify AB's Spotify Technology SA is in early-stage negotiations to acquire The Ringer, an online platform focused on sports, pop culture and tech, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Such a deal would allow Spotify, the parent of Spotify AB, to expand its digital media offerings, adding more than 30 podcasts to its portfolio.

* Ericsson faces the prospect of huge bribery-related fines in China amid ongoing investigations, reported Svenska Dagbladet. Aktiespararna, Sweden's shareholders federation, demanded Ericsson to explain if it bribed officials to win contracts in China.

* DigiPlex Norway AS named Wiljar Nesse as its new CEO, effective March 1. Nesse replaces Gisle Eckhoff, who will remain on DigiPlex's payroll as an adviser to the board.


* EllaLink Group signed a deal with public operator Rentelecom- Comunicações SA to use dark fiber in Portugal and Spain for data center interconnection. REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais SGPS SA is the parent company of Rentelecom.

* Accenture opened a Cyber Fusion Center in Naples, Italy to assist customers against cyber threats, according to Telecompaper. The new center is the latest of the global professional services company's Cyber Fusion Centers, located in India, Czech Republic, Israel, Australia and the U.S.

* Telecom Italia SpA's bid to recruit investors for the creation of a national broadband champion with Enel Open Fiber SPA has stopped due to difficulties in forging a deal structure, reports Reuters, citing sources close to the matter. Enel SpA owns Open Fiber.

* Telecom Italia will launch a fiber-optic network with internet service speeds of around 200 Mbps to a total of 280 localities in Sardinia, according to Telecompaper. The telecom company had signed a deal in 2018 with state-owned infrastructure company Infratel Italia SpA and Sardinia's regional government to expand its fiber network to 85% of Sardinia's population with a total investment of €25 million.


* Digi Communications NV launched a 4K package, including Digi 4K and Eurosport 4K, starting Jan. 17. Broadband TV News reports. The telecom service also said it closed a deal with Discovery Inc.'s Romanian unit last year to include Home and Garden TV in addition to content available on Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2, Discovery Channel, TLC and Travel Channel.

* ViaSat Inc. reached about 100,000 subscribers in Ukraine, according to Telecompaper, citing The satellite TV operator had started an advertising campaign on its plans to encrypt its satellite TV signal in the country last year.

* The Polish government named Monika Nowosielska COO, replacing Marcin Osiecki, at the R&D Institute of Communications, Telecompaper reports, citing

* Poland's Urząd Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów gave its conditional approval to Vectra SA's takeover of Multimedia Polska SA, Broadband TV News reports. Vectra would have to sell networks in eight cities and give customers the option to change providers to complete its acquisition of Multimedia Polska, the regulatory body said in a statement.

* ODMedia BV opened an office in Warsaw in its bid to expand to the Polish market, reports Broadband TV News. The Polish office is headed by Lukasz Brzezinski.


Data Dispatch: Netflix expected to shake off new streaming competition in Q4'19: Netflix will report its fourth-quarter 2019 earnings Jan. 21. While analysts are split on a valuation for the company, they generally do not yet expect to see an impact from competitor Disney+.


Economics of Networks: Premium output deals future upset by SVOD launches: We focus on where premium network output deals are today and where they are headed with studio streaming service launches.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Marieke Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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