Wall Street Journal
French upstart telecommunications company Iliad has made an offer for T-Mobile US in a bold bid to counter by Sprint for the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the US. Iliad announced that it offered $15 billion in cash for 56.6% of T-Mobile US at $33 a share.
Iliad said its offer for T-Mobile US, which is majority-owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, "should not raise any antitrust issue in light of the competition rules given that Iliad is not present in the United States."
Cable magnate John Malone says 21st Century Fox has long been eyeing a takeover bid for Time Warner and isn't likely to face competing bidders, pouring cold water on speculation that tech companies could emerge as rival suitors for the TV and movie company.
"It's such a large magnitude transaction," Malone said, adding that Fox's ability to pay with nonvoting stock and to access cheap debt means "that it would be very difficult to put together a competitive bid."
After less than a decade of existence, smartphones and tablets in 2014 will draw more money from advertisers than the centuries-old newspaper industry or the nearly century-old radio sector, a sign of just how rapidly technology is transforming media habits.
But given how much time Americans spend on their devices, mobile-ad spending could be much higher, an indication that marketers remain uncertain about the medium's effectiveness. Research firm eMarketer estimates that spending on mobile advertising, which includes both smartphones and tablets, will soar 83% to nearly $18 billion in 2014. Newspapers will draw nearly $17 billion, while radio will bring in $15.5 billion.
Still, the imbalance remains stark: American adults now spend almost a quarter of their media time on mobile devices, eMarketer estimates, yet 2014 spending growth will raise mobile's share of the ad market to only 9.8%. By contrast, American adults spend only 2% of their media time reading newspapers but ad spending for the sector hangs just under 10% of the overall market, eMarketer estimates.
European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.
The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of a settlement announced in February, aimed at dealing with concerns that the company abuses its dominance of online searches in Europe, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
The antitrust probes are only one element of a number of challenges faced by Google in Europe, where the company has faced allegations over issues ranging from corporate taxes to copyright issues to data privacy.
The commission is also deepening a second line of investigation into Google's business practices relating to its Android operating system for mobile phones. The Android inquiry isn't yet a formal investigation, but it is likely to become one, the person said.
Billionaire Carlos Slim's move to pare his telecom empire in Mexico is raising questions about what his intentions might be north of the border. The company's TracFone unit offers prepaid-mobile service and is the fifth largest US wireless provider, selling service under seven brands, including the Straight Talk brand sold at Wal-Mart Stores.
TracFone continues to grow via a string of acquisitions of small, prepaid carriers and provides Slim with a brand and a US foothold should he choose to expand. The business now rents space on networks from big carriers like AT&T and Sprint. With the continuing consolidation of the US telecom market, it is unclear if Slim would want to take a larger role in the business.
European Union antitrust officials have started questioning rival firms about Facebook's proposed $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, ahead of a formal review that could be a test case for how to apply EU competition law to the new world of social media.
Officials at the European Commission, the EU's central competition authority, have in recent weeks sent detailed questionnaires to several technology and online-messaging companies, asking about the merger's effect on competition in their markets, according to people familiar with the matter.
The questionnaires also drill down into a relatively new area for merger reviews: how the companies control and use personal data when they offer services, some of the people said.
The commission's questioning of rivals comes before the EU opens a formal merger review that will provide one of the first in-depth looks at the app economy and social media through the lens of competition law, antitrust lawyers and technology executives say.
It didn’t take long for the consolidation buzz to begin at the Allen & Co. conference, a get-together of honchos from the media and technology worlds known as a venue for deal-making. Speculation about mergers that could remake the media landscape was already flying at the entrance to the Sun Valley, Idaho resort.
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav could be smack in the middle of a consolidation wave. He predicted that the two big pending marriages in pay-TV distribution -- AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV and Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable -- would hang over the discussions and might give content owners like Discovery more reason to consider mergers of their own.
“You’ll probably see some more consolidation on the content side in order to balance that scale,” Zaslav said. “There’s a lot of people asking the question, are they big enough?”
[Commentary] One surprise from the widespread use of information technology has been the enormous value created out of just data. Information about what individuals do has created corporations worth billions of dollars.
While storage of vast amounts of data has led to hugely valuable benefits from analysis and correlation, it also has led to a significant erosion, if not almost complete destruction, of any meaningful concept of privacy.
Barring some civilization-threatening disaster, the next 25 years of cyberspace will see a growing gush of data, an increasingly rapid spreading of interconnected devices into every aspect of our lives, in our cars, throughout our homes, and indeed, into our bodies. If, however, the use of robotics and the deterioration of the environment develop as now expected, there could be an increase in societal dislocations and discontent from unemployment and climate-related disasters. That very discontent would increase the desire of government security entities to want more data for more control.
Privacy advocacy groups will probably be overwhelmed by corporate interests, the security industrial complex, and by a public that perceives benefits from the, frequently free, data-yielding devices and applications.
Privacy may then be a commodity that only the wealthy can acquire, but only briefly and in special sanctuaries while taking expensive off-the-grid vacations in locations without surveillance cameras or the tracking devices we call mobile phones.
[Clarke is chairman and chief executive of Good Harbor Security Risk Management, a provider of cybersecurity services and former White House adviser for the past three presidents on matters including cybersecurity and counterterrorism]
[Commentary] In the good old days, the secretary did all the hard work and the boss did two things: dictating and editing. But email has made secretaries of us all; we spend up to 38% of our day managing email. The future email systems will have integrated artificial intelligence that will know you as well as the secretary of 1978 once did, and you will be able to dictate to it.
It will automatically sort your inbox, file and archive, prioritize, and even come up with reasonable responses, which you simply review, edit and send.
[Ayyadurai, faculty lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology]
[Commentary] TV is increasingly the new cinema, featuring more nuanced and better writing, casting, design and storytelling. It is the technology that emancipated the great work. In the next five or 10 years, great TV will be discovered and appreciated more, good TV will be found to be good, mediocre TV will increasingly drown in the slushy middle, and imitative and bad TV -- as it always has been, but maybe more rapidly -- will be canceled. Overall, TV will be better and smarter.
[Sapan is chief executive officer of AMC Networks]