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Nokia and Verizon deals bad for Europe, says GSMA Chairman

Franco Bernabè, chairman at the GSMA

Recent merger and acquisition activity has illustrated how Europe’s telecoms sector is becoming weaker, according to top executives at operator trade association the GSMA.

Speaking at the GSMA’s Mobile 360 event in Brussels, chairman Franco Bernabè, who is also CEO at Telecom Italia, said that deals such as Vodafone’s sale of its Verizon stake and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia suggests that Europe is no longer a leading region in the telecoms sector.

“Despite the fact I think Microsoft will do a fantastic job, I think that what happened to Nokia does not go in the direction of helping Europe to become a champion. I think this must be given serious consideration by policy makers,” he said.

“Even what happened with Vodafone, and I think that Vittorio Colao has done a fantastic job in selling the Verizon stake, but I’m not sure this helps the growth of the European telecoms industry.”

He added that Europe has been at the centre of mobile development and a leader in mobile technology, but it is now losing ground.

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Bernabè stressed in order to get Europe back in the driving seat of innovation, policy makers and industry stakeholders must work together. He called for a “clear long term vision, coupled with clear, predictable and stable policy decisions”.

The GSMA’s director general Anne Bouverot added that Europe should have a public policy to support employment in the European telecoms sector and that the region ensures that the “best brains” in Europe are focused on the telecoms sector.

“We need to make sure we have the best brains and do everything we can to encourage students from a younger age to focus on ICT and telecoms,” she told Telecoms.com.

She added that the GSMA recently launched an initiative in Barcelona, called m-schools, to ensure specific ICT skills are embedded into schools’ curriculum.

“Initiatives like that, and this is just a small one limited to Barcelona, we need to have more of. The objective is to develop leading minds for the future of the industry.”

  • Nokia Corporation


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