What’s up with… Telenor, TIM, Vantage Towers

Picture source: Telenor

Picture source: Telenor

  • Telenor seeks external investors for its operations in Asia 
  • TIM tumbles as M&A talks move into extra time
  • More names linked to potential Vantage Towers bids

In today’s industry news roundup: Telenor looks for investment partners in Asia; TIM’s having a torrid time; more names linked to potential Vantage Towers bidding war; and more.

Telenor has signalled its intention to step back from, or possibly even exit, its operations in Asia with the formation of an “independent regional entity” based in Singapore that will “take on full oversight and responsibility for the company’s operations in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand.” With the creation of the new unit, Telenor, which exited the Myanmar market last year, can now look for ways to attract external investors. “The strengthened team at our Singapore headquarters will add value to our operations and safeguard our interests in the region,” noted Jørgen Rostrup, head of Telenor Asia. “This will also help us ensure value creation of our assets, and we will explore structural partnerships or, in the future, a potential IPO,” he added. Read more

Yesterday’s news that talks regarding the merger of Telecom Italia (TIM)’s fixed access network assets with that of its rival Open Fiber have stalled, despite an agreement seemingly having been previously struck, sent the Italian national operator’s share price to a record low of almost €0.17 in lunchtime trading on the Milan exchange on Tuesday. The operator’s stock ended the day’s trading at just below €0.18, giving the telco a market valuation of just €3.7bn. CEO Pietro Labriola and the TIM board have their work cut out to turn this ship around, it seems. 

Further names have been linked to potential bids for a stake in Vodafone-owned passive infrastructure firm Vantage Towers. According to Bloomberg, Brookfield Asset Management and Digital Bridge have shown an interest via GD Towers, the business that comprises the tower assets of Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Austria, and in which Brookfield and Digital Bridge jointly acquired a majority stake for more than €10bn earlier this year. As previously reported, American Tower, Cellnex, KKR, Global Infrastructure Partners and Sweden's EQT have also all been linked to potential bids. So far, though, there has been no mention of any interest from Totem, the towers unit created by Orange last year, though it should also be noted that the new Orange CEO, Christel Heydemann, has said that major M&A activity is not part of her current agenda

The UK, which (for those who hadn’t noticed) has a new prime minister and senior government ministers, and the US have built upon agreements made last year between the Biden administration in the US and the UK government headed then by Boris Johnson. One of the key areas of focus for the two countries has been striking an agreement on bilateral cross-border data flows and, to that end, the UK has apparently welcomed the release of the US Executive Order (EO) “Enhancing Safeguards for United States Signals Intelligence Activities”, under which the US intends to  “designate the UK as a qualifying state” as long as all the stringent details can be ironed out. “This is a significant step forward in our work on bilateral cross-border data flows, which will facilitate the free and secure flow of personal data from the UK to the US. We are working together to ensure that a deal on US-UK data adequacy upholds the rights of data subjects, facilitates responsible innovation, gives individuals in both countries access to the services that suit them, reduces burdens on businesses and delivers better outcomes for people,” noted the US Department of Commerce in this announcement. The partner nations also plan to launch “a new senior-level comprehensive dialogue on technology and data to further our joint efforts”. The two countries are to hold annual meetings involving the assistant secretary of industry and analysis at the US Department of Commerce, the ambassador at large for cyberspace and digital policy at the US Department of State, the director general for digital and media at the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the director of technology and analysis and senior responsible owner for technology partnerships at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to “set ambitions on a yearly basis to ensure progress under the Partnership”. Those talks will cover areas such as data, critical and emerging technologies, and secure and resilient digital infrastructure. 

Iliad Italy has signed a wholesale access network deal with Fastweb that will expand Iliad’s fixed broadband reach to more than 10 million premises by the start of 2023, the operator announced in this press release (in Italian). Fastweb plans to pass 14.5 million Italian homes with its wholesale fibre access network by 2025. “With this agreement, Fastweb strengthens its strategy of presence in the wholesale market of ultra-broadband connectivity,” noted Fastweb CEO Alberto Calcagno. “In addition to providing ultra-broadband services to families and businesses, we make our infrastructure of excellence available to other operators to accelerate the spread of ultra-broadband services in all areas of the country. We are proud that iliad, which recently launched its services in the fixed line segment, has decided to rely on our network and our technological know-how," he added. The other main wholesale fibre broadband players in Italy are, of course, Telecom Italia (TIM) and Open Fiber, which, as mentioned earlier, are having trouble closing their merger deal.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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