KPN disposes of Ortel Mobile unit in Switzerland

Dutch telecommunications and ICT services provider Royal KPN NV (AMS:KPN) on Monday announced the sale of its Ortel Mobile Switzerland business to Treternity AG.

KPN did not say how much it got for the unit, which offers mobile services as a virtual network operator under the Ortel Mobile brand.

The disposal is part of the Dutch group’s strategy of aligning the focus of Ortel Mobile with its core markets, it said, adding it was exploring options for its other Ortel Mobile-branded operations.

The sale will have no impact on customers of Ortel Mobile Switzerland, the vendor added.

Apart from Switzerland, Ortel Mobile has offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Spain, according to its website.

DealMarket and CapitalOnStage Announce Project to Help Start-ups Find Venture Capital More Efficiently

A Swiss firm offering third party private equity services has stuck a partnership with a top European venture capital scheme in an attempt to foster entrepreneurship and assist start-up companies in getting access to venture capital in a quick and efficient manner.

DealMarket, who among other things provide a platform for start-up businesses to search for financial backing and help private equity firms to track down promising new investment opportunities, have announced a deal with CapitalOnStage, who organise unconventional conferences where leading investors pitch their services to some of the brightest start-up entrepreneurs in Europe.

The deal will see CapitalOnStage use DealMarket’s online deal management tools to increase the visibility of promising new businesses by linking them to their wide network of respected investors. Potential investors will receive unfiltered access to DealMarket’s database of start-up companies allowing them to quickly find exciting clients with which to bolster their portfolio. If an agreement is reached, a start-up can then also post details of the deal for all of the website’s 35,000 global users to see.

CEO of CapitalOnStage, Arjen Strijker thinks the new partnership offers fantastic opportunities for both start-up companies and firms in the private equity and venture capital sectors, “I was looking for a partner who could really deliver on its promise to run an online marketplace for venture capital and private equity deals professionally. With our long-term partnership we are able to offer our combined clients the opportunity to source and manage deals in one place. I strongly believe that the virtual fosters the physical – now and in the future”

DealMarket CEO Urs Haeusler is equally satisfied with the agreement and believes it offers those in the sector a more transparent marketplace in which to do business, “DealMarket steps from the virtual world into the real world.” said Mr Haeusler, “With this cooperation we are consistently pursuing our vision to build an ecosystem for investors and capital seekers to provide better, simpler and more transparent access to capital and investment opportunities around the world.”

The two firms will begin work in 2013 on a series of conferences around Europe, with dates already confirmed in Berlin and London for early next summer.

More information here: DealMarket in the press.

Domino’s UK arm to acquire Domino’s Pizza Switzerland

Domino’s Pizza Group Plc (LON:DOM), which holds the master franchise for US pizza delivery company Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) in the UK, Ireland and Germany, said today it had agreed to buy the business of Domino’s Pizza Switzerland AG for a maximum of CHF7m (USD7.3m/EUR5.8m) in cash.

Through the purchase, the company will add 12 more stores, which generate annual sales of CHF12m. The target also plans to open at least 25 further stores over the next five years. According to the group, the Swiss network could be further expanded to reach some 65 outlets.

As part of the agreement, the buyer will initially pay CHF5m on completion and up to CHF2m, depending on the sales performance of the target’s existing stores over a two-year period. The deal also includes a master franchise agreement (MFA), under which the company will get the exclusive right to operate and franchise Domino’s stores in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg as well as an option to acquire the MFA for Austria until the end of 2014.

Domino’s Pizza Group said that the Swiss market offers attractive opportunities due to the current growth of quick service restaurant sector and the country’s predominantly metropolitan-based population. As the brand is not well recognized at present, the buyer intends to take measures to improve product quality and intensify the focus on delivery service and online sales. It also plans to make investments in refurbishing the existing stores or moving some of them to stronger locations.

The company said it expects to incur a short-term loss of CHF750,000 in 2012 as a result of these measures, which, however, will have a positive impact on the Swiss business in 2014.

Completion of the deal is seen in late September and is subject to the seller’s shareholder approval. With the latest purchase, the company will hold the master franchises for seven European countries, out of a total Domino’s global business of 73 international markets.

London-listed sports content firm Perform agrees to acquire Swiss rival RunningBall

British multimedia sports content distributor Perform Group plc (LON:PER) said on Wednesday it will take over Swiss real-time sports data provider RunningBall Holding AG for a maximum of EUR120m (USD152.5m) in cash and stock.

The move will boost the number of licensees Perform has, as well as the average number of events which are currently acquired by its existing ones. The group’s directors believe that the combination of its own sports editorial and video products with RunningBall’s sports data will improve the buyer’s solid growth prospects significantly.
The transaction is seen to build on the group’s earnings and EPS in both 2012 and 2013.

Under the terms of the deal, a unit of Perform will acquire the two holding companies of RunningBall for an initial amount of EUR70m, including EUR20m in cash and 13.5m new ordinary shares. Furthermore, the group will make an additional cash payment of between EUR31m and EUR50m, based on a nine times multiple to the target company’s audited EBITDA for 2012.

The buyer intends to use its existing cash resources to fund the cash portion of the initial consideration, while the deferred amount will be financed from new debt facilities.

Last year, RunningBall produced real-time data coverage of more than 35,000 sporting events and expects to increase this figure to 40,000 in 2012. The firm has operational centres in Austria, Portugal, Cyprus and Malaysia with over 1,100 scouts in more than 70 countries. It booked an EBITDA of EUR7.2m on a revenue of EUR16.1m in 2011.

Morality demands rethink of UK-Swiss tax deal

Ministers should urgently rethink plans for a deal with Switzerland which would see UK tax evaders let off lightly while harming poor countries, says Christian Aid.

‘We fear that the agreement will be soft on the Britons who have illegally hidden billions in the Alpine tax haven but hard on developing countries, which also suffer from Swiss banking secrecy,’ said Christian Aid Director Loretta Minghella.

‘In a week when there has been a lot of talk in the UK – following the riots – of a moral deficit in society, it is extraordin­ary that the UK Government appears poised to let tax evaders off with nothing more than a regular tax bill.

‘People who have hidden money in secret Swiss bank accounts in order to evade their legal responsibi­lities to the UK will be able to escape unpunished and they won’t even have to reveal their identities to the UK taxman.’

The proposed agreement will lead to Britons with secret Swiss bank accounts starting to pay tax on them, which the Swiss will pass on to the UK – but crucially, without revealing those people’s identities.

Christian Aid believes the deal will seriously damage global efforts to curb tax dodging – a menace which it estimates costs poor countries $160 billion a year, far more than they receive in aid.

Germany is also reported to have initialed a similar deal with Switzerland.

Poor countries lack the political and economic clout to do such deals with Switzerland – but they too lose billions as a result of money being illegally hidden in tax havens.

And just like the UK, they need that money to fund vital public services such as schools, hospitals and justice systems.

Ms Minghella added: ‘I urge UK ministers to reconsider the Swiss tax deal as a matter of urgency.’

Christian Aid is calling on the UK and other G20 Governments to use their November summit meeting in Cannes to bring about an end to the tax haven secrecy exemplified by Switzerland.

Specifically, the G20 should broker a new system of automatic information exchange between Governments – including those of poor countries – to help them to detect when citizens hide wealth offshore.