AT&T links up pan-European telecoms arms

AT&T and Unisource, an alliance of European telecoms companies, yesterday announced a merger of their continental European telecoms businesses, in the latest sign of rapid consolidation in the liberalising telecommunications market.

The new company, to be called AT&T-Unisource, will have revenues of $1bn (pounds 660m) and a staff of 5,000, and will offer pan-European services, particularly to businesses. Unisource will take a 60 per cent majority stake.

It joins two established alliances, BT's Concert and a joint venture between France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, formed in advance of the deregulation of telephony in the EU by 1998.

Unisource, owned by the Swiss, Dutch, Swedish and Spanish national telecoms companies, also has the option to take up to a 49.9 per cent stake in AT&T's UK operations within the next year. AT&T already has an operator's licence to offer telecoms services in Britain.

AT&T-Unisource had already established a strategic alliance, Uniworld, to offer both European and international services to businesses. Yesterday's announcement represents a further step in co-operation, executives from the two sides said.

The merger will also simplify the relationship between the operating companies, and provide them with the ability to expand by acquisition in the future. The two have agreed, as well, to jointly fund research and development and to invest in multimedia.

"This is a much expanded joint venture, which will be much more useful to our customers as a whole," a spokesman said. Common network, joint billing and customer service will also be features of the new venture.

Liberalisation of the voice and data markets in the European Union has encouraged a range of telecoms companies to extend their services into different markets. AT&T-Unisource said it would offer wireless, satellite and systems integration services, primarily to big businesses.

The new venture will have two headquarters, in Geneva (for multimedia) and Hoofddorp in the Netherlands (communications services).

The two companies said they have alerted competition authorities in Brussels, which have been looking closely at all telecoms alliances in recent years. The new joint venture will require the European Commission's approval.

Brussels has also been looking at Uniworld, which has yet to be approved, and has so far withheld approval of Telefonica's investment in Unisource.

A spokesman for BT said: "We're very pleased that they are catching up." BT's Concert is seen as being the most developed European alliance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor