VHA to file legal action over ACCC proposed merger decision

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) and TPG intend to launch legal action in the Federal Court following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision to oppose the proposed merger of the telcos.

VHA CEO Iñaki Berroeta said the company remains firmly committed to the merger.

“VHA respects the ACCC process, but we believe the merger with TPG will bring very real benefits to consumers.  We have therefore decided that VHA should, together with TPG, pursue approval of the merger through the Federal Court,” said Berroeta.

He said the proposed merger is about combining two complementary businesses, which have very little overlap and can deliver more for Australian consumers together than they can alone.

“VHA is an established mobile business with less than one per cent of the fixed broadband market, while TPG is the second largest fixed broadband player with no mobile network,” said Mr Berroeta.

“Australia’s mobile market has delivered some of the best outcomes for consumers of any country in the OECD. The merger provides a unique opportunity for VHA and TPG to combine their complementary assets. The merger would create an entity that can compete more aggressively in this highly competitive market than either VHA or TPG could on their own.  It is disappointing that the ACCC does not see it this way.

“While we continue to pursue the merger through the court, it remains business as usual for VHA. We will continue to challenge the market by delivering the best value products and services we can to our customers.”

The merger agreement with TPG has also been extended to 31 August 2020 to allow sufficient time for the Federal Court to deliver its decision and for the merger process to be completed.

NTT DOCOMO TO SELL STAKE IN HUTCHINSON TELEPHONE

IN BRIEF

NTT DOCOMO and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong (HTHKH) have announced  that DOCOMO will sell its stake in Hutchison Telephone (HTCL), a mobile network operator in Hong Kong and Macau, and Hutchison 3G HK Holdings (H3GHK) to HTHKH, the major shareholder of HTCL and H3GHK, for US$60 million.

HTHKH will purchase DOCOMO’s entire 24.1% share of HTCL’s stock and thereafter HTCL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of HTHKH. The contract was signed today and the actual transfer of shares will take place in May 2019.

BLACKBERRY COMPLETES CYLANCE PURCHASE

BlackBerrry has completed its previously announced acquisition of Cylance, a privately-held artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company based in Irvine, California.

“Today BlackBerry took a giant step forward toward our goal of being the world’s largest and most trusted AI-cybersecurity company,” said BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen. “Securing endpoints and the data that flows between them is absolutely critical in today’s hyperconnected world. By adding Cylance’s technology to our arsenal of cybersecurity solutions we will help enterprises intelligently connect, protect and build secure endpoints that users can trust.”

BlackBerry tipped Cylance’s machine learning and artificial intelligence technology as a strategic addition to its own end-to-end secure communications suite. More specifially, it said the acquisition’s “embeddable AI technology will accelerate the development of BlackBerry Spark, the secure communications platform for the Internet of Things.”

“As the President of BlackBerry Cylance, Stuart McClure will continue to apply his visionary math-based approach to threat detection, prevention, and response, as well as lead the business’ large team of highly-skilled engineers and data scientists that deliver trusted products and services for more than 4,000 companies around the world,” said BlackBerry. 

US ULTRABROADBAND FIRM CASA SYSTEMS SNAPS UP NETCOMM IN $161M DEAL

Casa Systems, ultrabroadband firm and NetComm Wireless have entered into a definitive agreement under which the US firm will acquire 100% of the equity interests in NetComm through a scheme of arranprovedesgement which valued NetComm’s issued equity at approximately $161 million.

NetComm shareholders will receive cash consideration of A$1.10 per NetComm
ordinary share (Scheme Consideration) and NetComm will become a wholly-owned . The transaction – subject to NetComm shareholder approval and court approval – will be funded from Casa Systems’ existing cash on balance sheet.

NetComm said each of its directors consider the Scheme to be in the best interests of NetComm’s shareholders and unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the Scheme, subject to no interests of NetComm’s shareholders.

The Lane Cove company also announced that due to family health issues Ken Sheridan has stepped aside from the role of Managing Director and CEO, effective immediately. Sheridan will continue as an Executive Director on the Company’s Board.

NetComm Chairman Justin Milne said Sheridan had been a vital contributor to the growth of the company during his eight year stretch as CFO and later CEO. “He has been a key member of the executive team that transformed the company, delivered record results in FY2018 and put in place a strong team to execute our growth strategy. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Ken for his leadership and commitment, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him in his new role.”

 

 

 

Motorola snaps up US video analytics specialist VaaS in $445M key play

Motorola Solutions has acquired VaaS, a data and image analytics company based in Livermore, California and Fort Worth, Texas, paying Motorola US$445 million in a combination of cash and equity.

VaaS, a “video analysis as a service” company, is billed as a primary  global provider of data and image analytics for vehicle location. Its image capture and analysis platform, which features fixed and mobile license plate reader cameras driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence, provides vehicle location data to public safety and commercial customers.

The firm’s subsidiaries include Vigilant Solutions for law enforcement users and Digital Recognition Network (DRN) for commercial customers. The company’s 2019 revenues are expected to be approximately US$100 million.

According to Motorola Solutions, the acquisition’s research and development operations are based in Vietnam where it has more than 40 employees working in the specialised areas of software engineering, AI and data analytics.

“This acquisition expands Motorola Solutions’ data and analytics capabilities, complementing our public safety software and analytics suite and Avigilon video and analytics platform,” said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions. “VaaS will enhance Motorola Solutions’ software portfolio with vehicle location information that can help first responders shorten response times, improve the speed and accuracy of investigations and create safer cities.”

VaaS’ platform enables controllable, audited data-sharing across multiple law enforcement agencies. Vehicle location information can help accelerate time to resolution and improve outcomes for public safety agencies, particularly when combined with police records. For example, law enforcement has used VaaS’ solutions to quickly apprehend dangerous suspects and find missing persons.

“We are very excited to be joining Motorola Solutions,” said Shawn Smith, co-founder of VaaS and president of Vigilant Solutions. “This acquisition enables us to continue to serve our existing customers and expand our footprint globally, while at the same time supporting a company with a commitment to innovation and growth, guided by a common purpose that aligns with our mission and culture: ‘To help people be their best in the moments that matter.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“Our extensive license plate data and AI technology have opened new commercial applications of our products,” said Todd Hodnett, co-founder of VaaS and president of Digital Recognition Network. “We believe commercialisation of these new applications can be accelerated under the Motorola Solutions brand and reach, and we look forward to working together to grow and diversify our commercial business.”

License plate reading is a highly specialised practice that requires purpose-built cameras and analytics. VaaS’ fixed and mobile license plate reader cameras can capture and analyse license plate information, which differs greatly by state and country, even when vehicles are moving at high speeds or in low-visibility weather conditions.

VaaS will join Motorola Solutions’ Software Enterprise, the team responsible for creating the company’s integrated public safety software suite.

8×8 snaps up Jitsi open source comms tech from Atlassian

8×8 has acquired the Jitsi open source video communications technology from Australian software firm Atlassian, along with its team of open source video technology experts.

Jitsi’s set of modular open-source projects that allow businesses to easily build and deploy secure video communication services.

“The best video communications solutions are so intuitive and reliable that they help employees conduct shorter, more productive meetings. 8×8 has already developed a world-class meetings solution for enterprises, and we’re focused on maintaining leadership in delivering reliable, crystal-clear video and audio conferencing quality across mobile and desktop applications,” said Dejan Deklich, Chief Product Officer at 8×8.

“Incorporating Jitsi’s open-source technology into our video communications technology platform, and having Jitsi’s talented engineering team play a role in leading our development of dedicated conferencing applications and WebRTC, will open new paths for our customers and further enhance our meetings solution.”

Jitsi is designed to run thousands of video streams from a single server. “It’s fully open source with a community of developers supporting the project as well as 100 percent standards compliant using technologies like WebRTC,” said 8×8. “At the heart of Jitsi is the Jitsi Videobridge conferencing server and Jitsi Meet conferencing and collaboration application.”

Under the deal, Jitsi’s video communications technology – which will be integrated into 8×8’s Meetings video and audio conferencing platform – will remain open source, ensuring that Jitsi stays in the forefront of Video Conferencing industry developments, including new application use cases.

“The open source community has played a critical role in advancing Jitsi’s projects by validating its use in a diverse set of environments and complementing the core team’s development. As part of this acquisition, 8×8 is committed to continuing to support the growing developer community, and we are excited to engage even more,” said 8×8 Chairman and CTO Bryan Martin.

 

IBM picks up Red Hat in US$34b deal

IBM and Red Hat have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will buy all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for US$190.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately US $34 billion.

“The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer. It changes everything about the cloud market,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. “IBM will become the world’s no. 1 hybrid cloud provider, offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses.

“Most companies today are only 20 percent along their cloud journey, renting compute power to cut costs,” she said. “The next 80 percent is about unlocking real business value and driving growth. This is the next chapter of the cloud. It requires shifting business applications to hybrid cloud, extracting more data and optimizing every part of the business, from supply chains to sales.”

“Joining forces with IBM will provide us with a greater level of scale, resources and capabilities to accelerate the impact of open source as the basis for digital transformation and bring Red Hat to an even wider audience – all while preserving our unique culture and unwavering commitment to open source innovation,” said Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst.

IBM said the deal brings together the best-in-class hybrid cloud providers, enabling  companies to securely move all business applications to the cloud.

“Companies today are already using multiple clouds. However, research shows that 80 percent of business workloads have yet to move to the cloud, held back by the proprietary nature of today’s cloud market. This prevents portability of data and applications across multiple clouds, data security in a multi-cloud environment and consistent cloud management,” it said.

“IBM and Red Hat will be strongly positioned to address this issue and accelerate hybrid multi-cloud adoption,” the firm added. “Together, they will help clients create cloud-native business applications faster, drive greater portability and security of data and applications across multiple public and private clouds, all with consistent cloud management.”

In doing so, they will draw on their shared leadership in key technologies, such as Linux, containers, Kubernetes, multi-cloud management, and cloud management and automation.