In Brief:EU opens new front in Google search competition probe 

The European Commission has opened a third front in its competition investigation against Google. In addition to the earlier allegations of abusing its dominant position in comparison shopping sites and in the Android market,the Commission's latest accusation is that Google is holding on to its position in the search advertising market by preventing sites from displaying ads from Google's competitors.

***Saudi Telecom Company is still considering its options when it comes to the future of its mobile towers portfolio, with a sale of the assets or a merger with rival operators still on the table, it emerged this week.
The Saudi Arabian incumbent has approached potential bidders about its towers and has also held talks with competitors Mobily and Zain regarding the possibility of combining their respective towers into a new, separate entity. Saudi Telecom has not made a final decision on which route it will take and has not brokered any agreements with any of the parties it has been in touch with, the sources said.

***VimpelCom, the parent company of mobile providers Mobilink and Warid, has announced plans to invest USD1 billion in Pakistan over the next five years, including USD300 million over the next year alone.ProPakistani quotes CEO Jean-Yves Charlier as saying: ‘We are going to make major investments in network, IT systems, infrastructure and in new services for customers during the next five years with an ambition to build the best network with the widest coverage and the most advanced 3G and 4G LTE services in the country… We fundamentally believe that the growth opportunities in Pakistan are very substantial,mainly due to young population here and penetration of mobile services that are still on the rise in the country.’ In addition to the USD1 billion earmarked for Pakistan, Mobilink/Warid will also benefit from a USD1 billion deal VimpelCom recently signed with Swedish vendor Ericsson to replace IT systems across all of its markets. The group is also considering centralising some of its global services in Pakistan as a hub to serve other VimpelCom subsidiaries worldwide.

***The proposed buyout of Maltese fixed and mobile operator GO by Tunisie Telecom (TT) of Tunisia is under scrutiny from regulators over a possible conflict of interest. A report from the Times of Malta says that watchdogs in both Malta and Tunisia are now studying the deal, which one has said ‘smells odd’. GO is currently 60%-owned by Dubai-based investment company Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), while EIT is also a 35% shareholder in TT. The Tunisian firm is offering to acquire EIT’s 60% stake in GO for EUR174 million and is offering EUR2.87 per share to acquire the interests of the GO’s minority shareholders.

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