Wed, Jul. 6, 1:56 PM
- Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) and VimpelCom (VIP +0.3%) -- trying to merge their Italian units Three Italia and Wind Telecomunicazioni -- have submitted a new concession plan to European regulators in the wake of a new entrant to the Italian market.
- The two have worked against tough odds for months to merge the units into Italy's biggest wireless provider, but their agreement to sell spectrum, sites and services to enable France's Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) to enter the market have likely changed the game.
- European regulators have taken a tougher approach to telecom consolidation under Margrethe Vestager. Regulators vetoed Hutchison's bid for O2 in the UK in May, and last year Sweden's TeliaSonera and Norway's Telenor called off a merger of their Danish operations after EC opposition.
- Facing the increased likelihood that it will be displaced as Italy's largest wireless carrier, Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) is now down 8.8% in U.S. trading. It closed down 10.8% in Milan.
Wed, Jul. 6, 10:09 AM
- Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) is hitting a two-and-a-half-year low, down 9.4%, following a downgrade from JPMorgan amid hot new competition in Italy's mobile sector.
- The analysts lowered their rating on the Italian incumbent to Neutral, from Overweight, as Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) has confirmed reports that it's got a deal to buy assets from Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) and VimpelCom (VIP +0.3%) and enter the mobile market as a fourth player.
- That deal will enable a long-challenged merger of Hutchison and VimpelCom's Italian units. Two blocks of 35 MHz of spectrum will be transferred for a total of €450M, and Iliad also has a deal to acquire several thousand macro sites in dense areas.
- Iliad's top shareholder, Xavier Niel, says he doesn't have a material stake in Telecom Italia; his position amounts to less than €25M, he says, and he'll dispose of it within the next few weeks.
Fri, Mar. 11, 7:34 PM
- Talks between Orange (ORAN +4.2%) and Bouygues (OTCPK:BOUYY) to combine phone businesses and create a new French phone giant are going slowly as it hits hitches over asset sales to competitors.
- The deal, expected to be around €10B, may fall out of March now, Bloomberg reports. In mid-February, Orange said any deal would take "several" more weeks to complete.
- Orange will need to sell assets to rivals Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) and Numericable-SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF) to dodge antitrust concerns, and while the talks are likely to end up with a deal, they are complicated. The biggest block is said to be Iliad's desire for Bouygues' mobile frequencies and network.
- Don't forget the French government's involvement -- it's Orange's biggest shareholder and heavily invested in talks as well.
- Previously: Orange CFO: Heavy investments, crunch time for Bouygues deal (Feb. 24 2016)
- Previously: Orange-Bouygues talks to take several more weeks (Feb. 16 2016)
- Previously: Report: Orange closes in on deal for Bouygues (Feb. 15 2016)
Tue, Mar. 1, 4:58 PM
- Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) is headed to a closed-door meeting with EU regulators to address objections to its £10.3B deal to buy out rival telecom O2 (TEF +4.3%), Reuters reports.
- The company will meet with the European Commission on March 7, along with rivals Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY +2.4%), Virgin Media (LBTYA +2.8%), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY), Vodafone (VOD +3.1%) and BT Group (BT +3.4%). Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY +2.5%), the small provider owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, could also take part.
- The long-in-the-works deal has generated plenty of heat, as the combination of Hutchison's Three UK (the country's No. 4 wireless provider) with Telefonica's O2 (the No. 2 provider) would create the country's largest, reducing the market to three major competitors.
- When the EC opened a full probe into the deal in October, the move suggested that heavy concessions were likely on the way to make the deal happen -- and they may include creating a smaller competitor. (TalkTalk has said it would love to help.)
- The UK tried to take over the probe, but the EC rejected that request and kept control of the deal investigation in early December.
- After hours: TEF -4.2%; LBTYA, VOD, BT flat.
- Previously: Europe rejects UK's effort to examine Three's O2 buyout (Dec. 04 2015)
- Previously: Europe opens full probe into Telefonica-Hutchison UK mobile merger (Oct. 30 2015)
Wed, Jan. 27, 11:42 AM
- Orange (ORAN +2.9%) is pitching its deal to take over rival Bouygues Telecom (OTCPK:BOUYY) to key French government officials this week, Bloomberg reports, with a goal of getting to a deal before Orange's Feb. 16 earnings report.
- The deal's likely to value Bouygues' mobile unit at about €10B, though the deal's structure is still up in the air.
- Orange has already approached Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) and Numericable-SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF) about selling them parts of Bouygues to enable the deal, sources said -- with each interested in different assets.
- The looks more likely to see examination from France's competition authority rather than the European Commission.
- Previously: Orange chief: Bouygues deal will have to create value, boost investment (Jan. 12 2016)
- Previously: France plans to remain key Orange shareholder, assess Bouygues talks (Jan. 06 2016)
Nov. 18, 2015, 7:29 PM
- A French auction of wireless airwaves raised €2.8B total, with Orange (NYSE:ORAN) and Free Mobile (OTCPK:ILIAY) taking most of the spectrum.
- The two each picked up two blocks (2 x 10 MHz), while Bouygues (OTCPK:BOUYY) and Numericable-SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF; OTCPK:ATCEY) took one apiece.
- The frequencies will be used to support LTE services, though the final positions in the 700 MHz band -- and therefore the final prices the operators will pay -- is yet undetermined.
- A secondary "bidding" procedure will have the companies lobbying for preferred positions on the band, with discounts coming to those who miss their preferred slots.
- Previously: France sets auction for airwaves to support LTE services (Oct. 15 2015)
Nov. 16, 2015, 12:05 PM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1.2%) is calling for four seats on the board of Telecom Italia (TI -0.7%) -- a precursor to what could become key battles over strategy, with TI the subject of competing stakes by French tycoons.
- Vivendi is TI's top shareholder, having amassed a stake of around 20%. The company is asking for a Dec. 15 shareholder meeting to consider expanding the board to 17 members from 13, and adding directors including Vivendi's Arnaud Roy de Puyfontaine and Stephane Roussel.
- Meanwhile, Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) founder Xavier Niel -- a price warrior by reputation -- has put together securities representing a 15% stake in TI.
- Vivendi is less likely to support price competition as it moves chess pieces toward creating a new media group focused on entertainment distribution.
- Previously: Reuters: Vivendi won't oppose dilutive move at Telecom Italia (Nov. 06 2015)
- Previously: Telecom Italia up again as Niel boosts interest over 15% (Oct. 30 2015)
Nov. 11, 2015, 11:14 AM
- Private-equity firms are lining up bids for Deutsche Telekom's (OTCQX:DTEGY +1.2%) unit in the Netherlands, with Apax and CVC getting close to final offers, Reuters reports.
- Bain Capital and Providence are also expected to get involved. The division could be valued at up to €3B.
- P-E firms may have the inside line on bidding; Xavier Niel's Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) or Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) could get involved, though Liberty already competes in the Netherlands with its Ziggo unit and is currently pursuing a purchase of Belgium's Base.
- DT's operation is behind competitors KPN and Vodafone in the Dutch market.
Oct. 30, 2015, 11:59 AM
- Shares in Telecom Italia (TI +1.5%) have touched seven-year highs today in Italy as the country's regulator reveals that billionaire Xavier Niel has increased his potential stake in the carrier to just over 15%.
- The news follows closely on reports that Niel, the founder of French carrier Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY), had acquired rights to 11.2% of TI, presenting a challenge to the near-20% stake held by Vivendi and its chief Vincent Bollore.
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) is reportedly surprised by the moves and is evaluating increasing its own position.
- Italian regulator Consob has been looking into whether Niel and Vivendi were acting in concert -- which would trigger a mandatory tender offer.
- Previously: Telecom Italia up 9% as billionaire Niel joins in with large stake (Oct. 29 2015)
- Previously: Vivendi's stake in Telecom Italia builds near 20% (Oct. 06 2015)
Oct. 15, 2015, 9:26 AM
- French regulators have set a date to start an auction of 700 MHz band wireless spectrum -- to support LTE services -- for Nov. 16.
- Firms that have applied for the auction include Orange (NYSE:ORAN), Bouygues (OTCPK:BOUYY), SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF; OTCPK:ATCEY) and Free Mobile (OTCPK:ILIAY). They'll get certified for participation by the end of October.
- Winners will be required to provide rural coverage and blanket 18,000 miles of rail lines across France, and will also have to offer nationwide coverage by the end of 2030.
- Regulator ARCEP says the licenses from the auction will be awarded before year's end.
Dec. 30, 2014, 6:05 PM
- French carrier Iliad's (OTC:ILIAF) Online.net unit plans to launch a cloud infrastructure service next month that runs on servers featuring ARM-based (NASDAQ:ARMH) CPUs supplied by Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL). Making good on ARM's promise of high densities, 18 servers - each sporting one quad-core CPU - can fit onto a blade, and 16 blades can fit within a chassis.
- Though it's no Google or Amazon, Iliad provides a useful reference win for ARM server CPU vendors as they try to take share from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), whose Xeon CPUs claim the lion's share of the server market, including most Web/cloud data center deployments.
- Canaccord has forecast ARM server CPUs, still in their infancy, will grab a 20% share by 2018. Hyperscale data centers and application-specific server appliances are seen as areas where ARM-based solutions could stand out.
- Intel is looking to head off the ARM threat both by developing low-power Atom server CPUs, maintaining a manufacturing process edge, and (notably) providing a variety of custom CPUs to Internet giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and eBay; the latest offerings are packaged with Altera (NASDAQ:ALTR) FPGAs to provide on-the-fly programmability.
- Nonetheless, Facebook's Open Compute Project supports both ARM and x86 CPUs, and Google has been reported to be thinking of building its own ARM chip. An Amazon VP recently stated ARM vendors aren't keeping pace with Intel. But Amazon might simply be opting to create its own ARM designs, given it has hired several key engineers from defunct ARM vendor Calxeda.
- Cavium (NASDAQ:CAVM) and AppliedMicro (NASDAQ:AMCC) are often viewed as ARM server CPU plays. AMD, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments are also competing in this space.
Oct. 13, 2014, 1:26 PM
- France's Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) has abandoned its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA (TMUS -3.6%). T-Mobile has fallen sharply on the news.
- Bloomberg previously reported Iliad had set a mid-October deadline to up its initial (rejected) offer for T-Mobile, or walk away. Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) was believed to be skeptical about Iliad's ability to run T-Mobile, and also nervous about selling one of its few growth assets.
- Update: Iliad says it abandoned its bid after Deutsche Telekom and certain T-Mobile board members "refused to entertain" an offer for a 67% stake (up from a prior 56.6%).
Oct. 2, 2014, 1:53 PM
- Sources tell Bloomberg Iliad's (OTC:ILIAF) revised offer for T-Mobile USA (TMUS +3%) would involve taking a "significantly larger stake" than its previous offer of 56.6%. However, its $33/share offer price would remain unchanged.
- Parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), reportedly open to a $35/share deal, is said to be undecided on whether Iliad's revised offer would be adequate.
- Notably, Bloomberg adds Iliad has "had some success signing up financial partners to back its efforts." The company has reportedly discussed raising as much as $5B in stock and debt for an improved bid.
- T-Mobile has added to its gains, and is nearing $29.
- Earlier: Iliad reportedly prepping bigger offer for T-Mobile
Oct. 2, 2014, 1:21 PM
- Bloomberg reports Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) is prepping an offer that would involve the French carrier acquiring a larger T-Mobile USA (TMUS +1.4%) stake. Iliad previously made a rejected $33/share offer for a 56.6% stake.
- Iliad is believed to have set a mid-October deadline for upping its T-Mobile bid or walking away, and has made outreaches to P-E firms. T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) is reportedly wary of Iliad's overtures.
- T-Mobile has caught a bid on the report. However, shares remain well below Iliad's original offer price.
Sep. 26, 2014, 4:00 PM
- Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) is "preparing for the possibility" of keeping its T-Mobile USA (TMUS +1.4%) stake for at least another year if Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) fails to sufficiently improve its offer, sources tell Reuters.
- Iliad has reportedly set a mid-October deadline to improve its T-Mobile bid, after an initial $33/share offer for a 56.6% stake was rejected. Multiple reports have stated DT has its concerns about selling to to Iliad, especially given T-Mobile (unlike many of DT's European assets) is showing healthy growth.
- T-Mobile has dipped on the Reuters report, but is closing higher. Earlier today, Pac Crest argued T-Mobile should reject any offer below $40/share, given its recent performance. The firm added its retail checks indicated a pickup in switching activity (to T-Mobile) and termination fee reimbursements following the iPhone 6 launch.
Sep. 19, 2014, 6:30 PM
- Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) has set a mid-October deadline to either make a new T-Mobile USA (NYSE:TMUS) offer or walk away, Reuters reports. The French carrier is said to be talking with U.S. banks to help finance a higher bid.
- Reuters adds Iliad "faces resistance" from Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), which would keep a minority T-Mobile stake under Iliad's proposed deal terms and is skeptical of the company's prospects in a market it currently has no presence in.
- Bloomberg reported earlier today Iliad was struggling to line up 3rd-party investors, and that DT's board was divided on whether it should "sell its only growing asset." Sources (within Iliad?) tell Reuters Iliad's management has "finished road shows to meet U.S. investors and is waiting to hear back from potential investors."
Iliad is the No. 2 high-speed Internet access supplier in France.
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