The digital business week


14 May 2012

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A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Eircom examiner rebuffs a second €2bn offer from Hutchison Whampoa

Struggling telecoms operator Eircom’s examiner has declined a second offer from conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of 3 Ireland. A proposed ‘scheme of arrangement’ is being circulated to creditors owned €3.4bn.

It recently emerged that Eircom rebuffed a €2bn cash offer by Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-headquartered conglomerate headed by Li-Ka Shing that employs 230,000 people in 54 countries.

The new offer included a €50m cash offer to creditors who are likely to be wiped out if a deal between Eircom’s examiner and senior lenders goes ahead. The second offer also saw the "conditionalities" removed except for due diligence.

In a statement late last week, Eircom confirmed the examiner Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton declined a second offer for Eircom Group.

EU mobile data roaming charges to be capped as of 1 July

The European Parliament has today passed new roaming regulation, which will come into force as of 1 July. The new mobile roaming regulation will be extended to include price caps for data downloads. But what type of savings can holidaymakers and business travellers expect?

The European Parliament said that the EU’s new mobile roaming regulation would spell significant savings for those using maps, email and social networks when travelling.

According to the Digital Agenda for Europe, a typical businessperson travelling in the EU this will now incur savings of more than €1,000 per year, while a family taking an annual holiday in another EU country can expect to save at least €200.

It said that the EU roaming regulation, which will now take calls, SMS and data into account, will deliver consumers savings of 75pc across a range of mobile roaming services, compared to 2007 prices.

Yahoo! director who led CEO search stepping down

Patti Hart, the director who led the hiring of Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, who has apologised to Yahoo! employees for an error in his educational credentials, will not seek re-election on the digital media company’s board.

In a statement regarding her giving up her seat on Yahoo!’s board, Hart cited her duties as CEO of IGT, a maker of electronic gaming machines.

Yahoo!’s board said it has appointed a three-person committee and retained a law firm to review Thompson’s educational background and the ‘facts and circumstances’ surrounding his hiring.

Activist hedge fund Third Point’s founder and chief executive, Dan Loeb, brought up Thompson’s academic credentials in a letter to Yahoo’s board, claiming Thompson does not have a computer science degree despite what was stated on his official company biography and in regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a memo sent to Yahoo! employees last week, Thompson said he takes “full responsibility, and I want to apologise” to the company’s employees. He did not say he has plans to step down.

RIM appoints new COO and CMO

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has hired Kristian Tear as chief operating officer and Frank Boulben as chief marketing officer as it focuses on expanding its global customer base and prepares for the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 platform.

Tear joins RIM from Sony Mobile Communications, where he served as executive vice-president. He previously held various operational leadership positions with Ericsson in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

In his new role at RIM, Tear will oversee all operational functions for handhelds and services, including research and development, products, global sales, manufacturing and supply chain. 

Boulben is the former executive vice-president of Strategy, Marketing and Sales for LightSquared. He joined LightSquared after serving as global director of Commercial Strategy for Vodafone Group and executive vice-president of Brand and Consumer Marketing for Orange Group.

In his new position at RIM, Boulben will oversee global marketing efforts.

Record annual loss of US$5.7bn hits Sony

Natural disasters, "unfavourable" foreign exchange rates and deterioration in developed countries’ market conditions are the reasons computer tech giant Sony is citing for a decrease in its year-on-year consolidated sales. The company reported a record annual loss of 457bn yen (US$5.7bn).

Sony has experienced its fifth straight quarterly net loss, reporting a loss of 255bn yen (US$3.2bn) in the last quarter of the year.

The company’s previous estimates had it recording a US$6.4bn loss for 2011, based on a tax charge of about US$3.6bn it had to pay in the US.

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