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  1. Technology
November 27, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Telecommunications ministers from several continental countries are set to set about the European Commission today for going too far in its efforts to force through liberalisation of telecommunications markets, diplomats told Reuter on Friday: most member states agree that the Commission has inserted provisions into two draft directives under Article 90 of the EC treaty – which allows the Commission to assume dictatorial powers over to break up monopolies – that should be dealt with through normal legislative procedures, they said; one of the Article 90 directives in question would require member states to introduce full competition in cellular communications by January 1, the other would oblige them to open all telecommunications services and infrastructure to competition by January 1 1998 – but to move by next January to allow alternative networks such as those owned by utilities or railways to offer some communication services; even governments that support earlier liberalisation, such as Britain and Denmark, flinch at the Commission exercising dictatorial powers and believe the Article 90 texts delve into areas that should be addressed under Article 100A, which requires both Council of Ministers and European Parliament approval.

Pacific Telesis Group Inc plans to acquire wireless cable licences owned by Groupe Videotron Ltee and Transworld Telecommunications Inc for video services in California, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the deal.

The IBM do Basil Ltda has signed a contract with the government to upgrade the national information infrastructure, Science & Technology Minister Joseh Israel Vargas said: the contract is the latest stage in an agreement IBM Brazil signed last February to participate in the development of the information infrastructure in return for incentives to manufacture locally – the company agreed to invest a total of $12m under the arrangement and the latest agreement is said to be the most important element.

Proxima Corp of San Diego reports that it has acquired Mind Path Technologies Inc of Dallas: Mind Path develops wireless hand-held remote controls for use at computer-based meetings and presentations, and will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Proxima, which develops, manufactures and markets desktop projection products; terms of the acquisition were not given.

Markham, Ontario-based Legacy Storage Systems International Inc says it has agreement in principle to acquire bankrupt Rexon Inc, and that the deal has been approved by the unsecured creditors’ committee for Rexon/Tecmar Inc; the structure of the transaction remains to be settled; the agreement will form the basis for a definitive agreement of purchase and sale, which must be agreed by December 4 1995.

Components distributor Abacus Group Plc is to acquire fellow distributor Polar Plc in a share exchange values each Polar share at 443 pence and the fully diluted share capital of Polar at about #35.9m.

Domino Printing Sciences Plc, Cambridge has made 60 people redundant, it revealed as it issued another warning that it expects second-half profits to fall short of the first-half res-ult, adding that the cost of third party supply problems was now expected to reach a whopping ú3m: the firm had already warned on second-half profits in September, when it put the expected cost of the technical problems with supplies from third parties at only half that – while Domino’s own customers have been getting their goods for some time without any trouble, the group said a thorough review of its operations and moves to cut operating expenses was likely to cost it ú2m more; the PackTrack operation has been refocussed and most of the US Control Print business is being consolidated into the Chicago operation, it said; on the up side, sales were still on the rise, it was confident about the year as a whole and would pay a final dividend of 6.4 pence for the 12 months to the end of December.

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A study group at Japan’s Fair Trade Commission says the government should consider deregulation of Japan’s telecommunications market as a first step in enhancing competition, the Kyodo news agency reported, saying that the moves proposed should be seen as prerequisites for considering a break-up of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp: it proposes that the government lift business barriers separating long-distance and regional telecommunications services, and scrapping of the Nippon Telegraph Law and the Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co Law, which define the two companies’ domains, so the barriers between domestic and international services can be lifted; it also wants an easing of regulations on new market entries.

IBM Corp’s Lotus Development Corp unit said its InterNotes Web Publisher Release 2.0 software, which automatically publishes Notes documents and forms to the World Wide Web, is now available: the product translates documents into HyperText Mark-up Language and captures information from forms submitted via the Web, incorporating it into Notes business process applications; the new features of version 2.0 are Web forms, access to the Notes full-text search engine and enhanced Web publishing capabilities; it is available for both OS/2 and Windows NT at $3,000; Web Publisher 1.0 customers get it free.

Second time lucky – BCE Inc’s Bell Canada International Inc said a consortium led by it and Tata Sons & Co Pvt Ltd has been offered a licence to provide cellular telephony services in the State of Andhra Pradesh after the team lost out to a Hughes Electronics Corp-Nippon Denro Ispat consortium for a licence in Maharashtra (CI No 2,796): consistent with Indian foreign ownership rules, 51% of the equity in the cellular company will be held by the Tata Group; Bell Canada said it will own an initial 39%, representing a commitment of about $35m, while 10% will be held by the American International Group Inc.

The European Commission has now ap-proved the acquisition of Conner Peripherals Inc by Seagate Technology Inc: In the relevant tape drive and computer software segments, in Europe the parties’ market shares are small and pose no threat to competition, it said.

Campbell, California-based systems distributor Western Micro Technology Inc has completed its acquisition of the commercial distribution business of San Antonio, Texas-based International Parts Inc, transfering some 300,000 shares, and there is also an earn-out based on future performance: the former management team will continue to operate as a separate value-added reseller business aimed at the public sector community, Western declared.

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd has incorporated an associate company in Brunei, Forward Media Sdn Bhd, to address publishing and media opportunities in Brunei: Forward Media is a joint venture between Singapore Telecom’s wholly-owned Integrated Information Pte Ltd unit and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

It’s not clear that the Italians have quite got the hang of this privatisation game: according to the Wall Street Journal, when the likes of Stet SpA go on the block, the government has said it wants the banks to take large blocks of shares – but two thirds of the banks are also state-controlled…

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