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In Brief:Windstream, Earthlink strike $1.1bn merger deal 

Consolidation in the U.S.continued as Windstream and Earthlink became the latest telcos to announce a merger.The $1.1 billion (€993.82 million)all-stock deal will see Windstream, which serves 1.06 million residential broadband customers,138,500 small businesses,and 26,600 enterprises,take a 51% stake in the combined entity,while the remaining 49% will be held by smaller rival Earthlink.The resulting company will boast 145,000 route miles of fibre covering strategic markets in the northeast and southeast of the U.S., and will offer a range of connectivity, managed services, voice, Internet, and value-added services to residential and business customers.

***South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has resumed its planned sale of a ZAR6 billion (USD440 million) stake in Johannesburg-based telecoms provider Vodacom Group and is reportedly in talks with a number of black investors.The move comes several months after the PIC called off a May 2016 deal to divest around 2.6% of the company to a consortium including former Vodacom executive Romeo Kumalo; the agreement aimed to boost Vodacom’s black shareholding from its current level of 18.7%.TeleGeography notes that Vodacom Group is owned by UK-based mobile giant Vodafone Group (65.0%) and the PIC (15.4%);the remainder of 19.6% is distributed.In July 2015 the South African government sold its 13.9% stake in the Johannesburg-based operator to PIC, in order to help fund a ZAR23 billion allocation to struggling domestic electricity supplier Eskom.

***Swedish telecoms heavyweight Telia Company has agreed to buy Norwegian MVNO and full-service B2B service provider Phonero at an enterprise value of NOK2.30 billion (USD281 million) on a cash and debt free basis.Phonero’s customer base comprises 25,000 invoiced enterprises with approximately 250,000 mobile subscriptions, according to Telia’s press release which adds that the takeover will increase the Telia group’s overall market share in the Norwegian mobile enterprise segment from approximately 13% to 27%, whilst generating annual cost synergies of roughly NOK400 million. Phonero posted revenues of NOK1.104 billion and adjusted EBITDA of NOK217 million in the twelve months ending 30 June 2016.‘The transaction will strengthen Telia’s position as a true alternative to the incumbent in the Norwegian B2B market,’said the CEO of Telia Company’s Norwegian operations.The acquisition is subject to approval from the Norwegian competition authorities and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

***China has adopted a cybersecurity law.China says the new law will counter growing threats such as hacking and terrorism,Reuters reports. This cybersecurity law,passed by China's parliament, will come into effect in June 2017.Overseas critics of the law claim that it threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed "critical", and includes contentious requirements for security reviews and for data to be stored on servers located in China. Rights advocates also believe the new law will increase restrictions on China's internet, already subject to a tight online censorship mechanism, known outside the country as the Great Firewall.

***Deutsche Telekom ICSS launches IP-VPN mobile access
Deutsche Telekom’s international wholesale arm, International Carrier Sales & Solutions (ICSS), has today launched a unique IP-VPN mobile access solution using mobile radio technology for network access.

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