What’s up with... Orange & Vodafone, Vivendi & TIM, BT, spying via CPaaS

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Dec 6, 2021

Stéphane Richard, the outgoing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orange

Stéphane Richard, the outgoing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orange

  • Orange and Vodafone held merger talks, according to French reports
  • Vivendi is warming to TIM’s options
  • BT investors on the alert as Discovery emerges as a sports sale option and Drahi’s deadline day looms
  • CPaaS service provider accused of offering spying service

It’s a hot start to the news week as all sorts of M&A scuttlebutt is swirling around Europe right now, involving Orange, Vodafone, TIM and BT, while a Swiss CPaaS specialist has been identified as a secret supplier of spying services. 

Orange and Vodafone held high level talks about a potential mega-merger late last year, but the talks were eventually nixed by the French government, which still holds a 23% stake in Orange according to popular French broadcaster BFM TV. The report says the two operators explored the concept of a ‘merger of equals’ that would have a broad and powerful footprint in Europe and Africa due to their largely complementary operational footprints, with Spain the only market where the two companies go head-to-head in any meaningful way. According to the report, the main driving force at Orange behind the discussions was Stéphane Richard (pictured above), who, until his resignation last week, was Chairman and CEO: Whether such discussions might be resurrected now that he is heading for the porte de sortie is unclear. It’s interesting to note, also, that in replacing Richard, Orange will be revamping its governance structure so that the Chairman and CEO roles are no longer combined.  

Vivendi is warming to the idea that FiberCop, the fixed access arm of TIM (Telecom Italia), could be merged with alternative wholesale access network Open Fiber without TIM having a controlling stake in the merged entity, reports Reuters. Vivendi is the largest single shareholder in TIM, which is currently in a state of turmoil as boardroom tension remain high following a €10.8 billion takeover offer from private equity giant KKR and the resignation of the CEO. Reuters also reports that TIM is close to selecting its advisers for the consideration of the KKR offer.

Meanwhile in the UK... Tension is mounting ahead of the 11 December deadline when the billionaire owner of Altice, Patrick Drahi, is allowed to make any planned takeover move on BT, in which Altice holds a 12.1% stake. Speculation is now rife that Drahi might at first seek to gain a seat on the BT board by acquiring Deutsche Telekom’s 12% stake, which is seemingly up for grabs if the German giant gets a good offer: Whatever action Drahi takes, if any, the BT team has been sending signals that it is ready to defend its independence... like the UK national operator needs this kind of distraction right now!  

While that development heats up, BT has been looking to offload all or part of its BT Sport operation, which has proven quite costly. The UK operator had been linked to talks with DAZN, but it now appears an alternative deal with US media firm Discovery might be in the works, according to City AM.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Bloomberg News have alleged that the co-founder and COO of Swiss communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) specialist Mitto ran a secret side business that provided clandestine device tracking services that allowed organizations to locate individuals, including high-ranking government officials, via Mitto’s interface with hundreds of mobile networks. Read more

Marc Allera, CEO at BT's Consumer division, has put his name to a blog that complains about how unfair it is that telcos such as BT have to carry the unpredictable traffic generated by a “handful” of popular streaming companies. The whinge was published a day after BT’s network witnessed a surge in traffic as Amazon Prime offered six Premiership football matches simultaneously to its customer base, which required the UK telco to enable 25.5 Tbit/s of capacity for the video stream demands. Read more

The value of mobile money transactions (microinsurance, microloans, microsavings and mobile money transfers) in emerging markets is expected to grow by about 60% in the next five years to more than $870 billion in 2026, up from $555 billion in 2021, according to the team at Juniper Research. The growth will be driven by “the transition of mobile money vendors, such as M-PESA, to the PaaP (Payments-as-a-Platform) model. This model enables mobile money vendors to offer their users access to third-party services such as eCommerce,” which will help create new revenue opportunities. According to Juniper Research, Africa and the Middle East will dominate mobile money transaction values during the next five years, accounting for 56% of the global emerging markets value by 2026. Read more

ADTRAN is to hold a special meeting of shareholders on 6 January 2022 to “adopt the Business Combination Agreement” related to planned merger with ADVA Optical NetworkingRead more

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