Manx Telecom may be a small operator, but its takeover by Basalt Infrastructure Partners was last week’s biggest news. It adds to the growing number of constituents that we may have to drop from our Telecompaper Stock Index European Telecoms as a result of M&A activity. The TPSI European Telecoms gained 3.2 percent last week, driven mostly by the heavyweights making gains: Deutsche Telekom (+4.0%), Vodafone (+4.9%), Telefonica (+3.0%) and Orange (+4.4%). They represent 11.8, 7.1, 6.9 and 6.2 percent of the index, which managed to stay just ahead of the EuroStoxx 50 index (+3.1%).
Basalt is offering GBP 256 million for Manx Telecom, or 215p per share (including a dividend). The Manx Telecom share ended the week up 15 percent at 215.5p. Earnings season also was drawing to a close in week 11, with reports from Nos (+2.9%), Gamma Communications (+12%), Rostelecom (-0.3%) and Manx Telecom.
In the aftermath of Iliad’s (+7.9%) market entry, Vodafone’s Italian unit was rumoured to plan job cuts. The company also refreshed some of its mobile plans. CK Hutchison’s (+1.3%) 3 Italia launched a new mobile plan and appears to be preparing the sale of tower and data centre assets. Tower company Inwit (+3.2%), controlled by TIM, was getting into the 5G DAS market by expanding to Italian train stations.
5G was also in focus in Germany, where Freenet (+3.5%) was the latest to file an injunction against the upcoming 5G auction. However, the administrative court of Cologne brushed the objections aside, allowing the auction to start 19 March.
For a number of satellite operators, 5G remains a source of share price volatility. The CBA (C-Band Alliance) around Intelset (-5.5%), Eutelsat (-2.1%) and SES (+1.0%) got support from investment bankers at Morgan Stanley and Exane and opposed Deutsche Telekom’s (+4.0%) T-Mobile US views on how to get the spectrum ready for 5G services in the US.
Expansion was a theme for Digi (-1.0%), launching a fixed-wireless service in Hungary. Sky UK (now part of Comcast), according to press reports, is looking to buy capacity wholesale from other local loop operators than just BT’s (+4.3%) Openreach, in order to expand the reach of its fibre-based offerings. Orange said that it would provide retail services over rural fibre networks in France, owned by competitors, expanding the availability of its services.