Fri, Jun. 24, 3:30 PM
- The UK's vote to leave the EU is slamming European media/telecom firms today -- Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is down 12.5%, Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) has shed 19.8%, Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) has dropped 17.6%, BT Group (NYSE:BT) has fallen 18.2% and others have tumbled at least 5% -- but it could have the effect of kiboshing some cued-up M&A, Jefferies says.
- A much-discussed potential merger between Liberty Global and Vodafone (VOD -6.8%) could get complicated in an already tough antitrust review environment, the firm says.
- "To the extent that Vodafone is no longer perceived by the EU as a 'European champion' asset to be strengthened as a matter of industrial policy, any prospective acquisition of Liberty Global might receive tougher antitrust scrutiny at the EU level and from Germany," Jefferies writes.
- Still, Liberty Global is suffering unnecessarily today, the firm suggests -- mainly the "technicality of currency translation" against a noncyclical fundamental business character.
Fri, May 13, 1:20 PM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) and Orange (NYSE:ORAN) are rumored to consider selling off their enterprise businesses, inspired by some progress that Verizon is making in moving data centers, CTFN says.
- Verizon was unsuccessful in selling its enterprise segment last year, but that morphed into a data center sale that still allowed for some refocus on the consumer market.
- "Verizon's moving forward, and BT and Orange are envious," an executive tells CTFN.
- Those businesses are large, though, and contain desirable contracts with upscale customers and government agencies. For now, BT chief Gavin Patterson says BT Global Services and BT Business are areas of expected growth. Those two segments generated a combined £9.9B in revenue last year, while Orange's Enterprise segment posted revenues of €6.3B for full 2014.
- Now read Buy On Weakness? Analyzing Tech's 'Biggest Losers' Of Week 13 »
Tue, Mar. 1, 4:58 PM
- Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) is headed to a closed-door meeting with EU regulators to address objections to its £10.3B deal to buy out rival telecom O2 (TEF +4.3%), Reuters reports.
- The company will meet with the European Commission on March 7, along with rivals Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY +2.4%), Virgin Media (LBTYA +2.8%), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY), Vodafone (VOD +3.1%) and BT Group (BT +3.4%). Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY +2.5%), the small provider owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, could also take part.
- The long-in-the-works deal has generated plenty of heat, as the combination of Hutchison's Three UK (the country's No. 4 wireless provider) with Telefonica's O2 (the No. 2 provider) would create the country's largest, reducing the market to three major competitors.
- When the EC opened a full probe into the deal in October, the move suggested that heavy concessions were likely on the way to make the deal happen -- and they may include creating a smaller competitor. (TalkTalk has said it would love to help.)
- The UK tried to take over the probe, but the EC rejected that request and kept control of the deal investigation in early December.
- After hours: TEF -4.2%; LBTYA, VOD, BT flat.
- Previously: Europe rejects UK's effort to examine Three's O2 buyout (Dec. 04 2015)
- Previously: Europe opens full probe into Telefonica-Hutchison UK mobile merger (Oct. 30 2015)
Fri, Jan. 29, 1:52 AM
- Today is when longtime UK incumbent telecom BT Group (NYSE:BT) completes its acquisition of EE, the country's largest mobile network, creating a beast that has competitors (particularly mobile-only Vodafone) concerned about market power.
- That leaves Openreach, the company's fixed-line infrastructure arm, as the hot topic. For months, investors, competitors and politicians have debated whether BT should be forced to spin the company off.
- At stake is the effect on competition and investment when competitors rely on BT's network as wholesale customers. Rivals say BT's ownership of the network is hurting investment in higher speeds; BT argues the opposite.
- Analysts now are leaning toward an outcome where BT can keep Openreach, but on Monday, UK politicians urged the company to sell it off.
- BT chief Gavin Patterson has been forceful on the issue, saying there's no case for splitting it off and warning of a "decade of litigation" if forced to act.
- Next steps: The UK's Ofcom regulator reports back on a review of Openreach next month.
- BT's rivals: VOD, LBTYA, OTC:TKTCY, OTCQX:SKYAY
Fri, Jan. 15, 3:32 AM
- The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority has approved BT's (NYSE:BT) £12.5B acquisition of EE unconditionally, stating the tie-up won't result in a substantial lessening of competition.
- The full deal is set to close on January 29 when Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) takes a 12% BT stake and Orange (NYSE:ORAN) takes a 4% share stake in the company.
- A Deutsche Telekom representative is also expected to join the BT board imminently.
Nov. 2, 2015, 7:36 PM
- Internationally ambitious Discovery Communications (DISCA +2.1%) could be in a group of numerous bidders for Britain's Channel 4, a Public Service Broadcaster that the government may be readying for a sale that could draw $1.5B.
- Though government-owned, Channel 4 is ad-supported, unlike the BBC. Other interested bidders could include private-equity players as well as telecom giant BT Group (NYSE:BT).
- Discovery had considered getting into the bidding for similar broadcaster Channel 5 last year before ceding it to Viacom for an eventual $700M.
- Discovery also has a stake in All3Media, a key content partner for Channel 4.
Oct. 28, 2015, 10:09 AM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) is up 3.5% in U.S. trading following the UK's provisional clearance of its £12.5B merger with mobile market leader EE.
- The telecom giant had made its case to regulators for the takeover in early May. Opponents, particularly Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), have been vocal about the combination of the UK's biggest fixed-line telecom with its biggest mobile operator.
- And despite a harder-line stance by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager -- whose opposition led to TeliaSonera and Telenor calling off a Danish merger -- the EU's digital economy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, thinks consolidation will continue to run: "I believe the consolidation process will continue - we have rather too many than too few companies in Europe."
- As for Vestager's approach: "She sets a lot of store by variety of offerings, by competition, that's the one important factor. The other is that we need competitive companies who are big enough in the global competitive context."
- Also up today: EE owners Orange (ORAN +0.5%) and Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY +1%).
- Previously: TeliaSonera, Telenor call off Danish merger as regulators balk (Sep. 11 2015)
Oct. 28, 2015, 4:16 AM
- BT Group's (NYSE:BT) bid to acquire Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) and Orange's (NYSE:ORAN) British wireless venture EE has been cleared by merger watchdogs, who found it would not cause significant harm to competition.
- If the £12.5B transaction is completed, BT would control the biggest high-speed broadband network as well as the largest wireless operator in the U.K., letting it sell packages of mobile, TV, home phone and Internet services.
Oct. 9, 2015, 10:06 AM
- BT Group (BT -0.6%) is keeping up the pressure in its response to a strategic review by UK telecom regulator Ofcom, saying that there's no case for divesting its Openreach wholesale access business -- a move it says would hurt the UK's "digital health" -- and pointing regulators instead toward the dominance of pay-TV rival Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY -0.9%).
- The regulator is conducting its first strategic review of the sector in 10 years amid some key and rapid change.
- BT in February agreed to a $19B acquisition of EE, the UK's top mobile firm, raising vocal calls from competitors (especially Vodafone) over network access. Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.3%) and Vodafone (VOD +0.3%) discussed -- and then dropped -- a merger or asset swap in Europe. And the UK's second- and fourth-largest mobile firms are pursuing a $15.7B merger.
- This summer, a determined BT CEO Gavin Patterson threatened the specter of a decade of litigation over Openreach if the company were forced to unload it. Now it says that the existing "functional separation" of its units has served the UK "exceptionally well over the past decade."
- Elsewhere, Citigroup today reiterated its Neutral rating on BT Group.
- Previously: BT Group up as Societe Generale reiterates Buy rating (Sep. 23 2015)
- Previously: BT Group recommits to 10M homes with ultrafast broadband by 2020 (Sep. 22 2015)
- Previously: Vodafone, rivals renew call for BT Openreach split (Sep. 21 2015)
Sep. 21, 2015, 10:38 AM
- Vodafone (VOD +0.5%) and other rivals of BT Group (BT -0.3%) have renewed their call for radical reform of the UK telecom market, including a competition investigation and a split of wholesale business Openreach from BT Group proper.
- In an open letter in the Financial Times, chiefs of Vodafone UK, Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY) and Daisy Group claim that British regulator Ofcom has found serious problems in the ownership of the national network by BT Openreach.
- For its part, BT Group says that it continues to invest billions in Openreach and that the business is exceeding service targets set by Ofcom.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone's tie-up talks with Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.6%) are snagging over complicated tax arrangements at Liberty and its Virgin Media cable net, The Telegraph reported. The companies have discussed swapping assets, but Liberty reportedly depends on Virgin Media's billions in losses to lower its tax burden.
Jun. 9, 2015, 11:09 AM
- With BT Group (NYSE:BT) pressing for speed on reviewing its proposed $19B buyout of UK mobile market leader EE, the UK's competition regulator has agreed to fast-track it by skipping a step where it establishes whether the deal threatens competition.
- The deal is a competitive threat, the CMA concluded, and so it can skip to phase two of the probe.
- "The transaction ... gives rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in relation to the supply of wholesale access and call origination services to mobile virtual network operators and fibre mobile backhaul services to mobile network operators in the U.K.," the CMA said.
- Vodafone may be the primary stakeholder arguing for a tight look at the competitive aspects -- “The important thing is that the regulator has an eye [on] how the new, large BT continues to grant access to their network,” CEO Vittorio Colao said in February -- though BT says customers need more choice in a multi-play market dominated by Virgin Media and TalkTalk.
- Previously: BT to submit case for EE takeover to regulators (May. 04 2015)
Jun. 8, 2015, 10:16 AM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) ADRs are up 0.7% and the stock is up 0.6% in London following a report in The Telegraph that it's set to become a takeover target for Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) amid the industry's merger mania.
- The paper cited senior industry execs and London analysts with the report, which suggests intensity for a BT takeover will increase if Deutsche Telekom can successfully marry off T-Mobile to Dish Network.
- That would mean T-Mobile's parent (DT owns two-thirds of T-Mobile U.S.) could reallocate billions to take part in Europe's consolidation wave.
- BT is set to acquire EE, the UK's largest mobile operator, for £12.5B, which gives Deutsche Telekom an existing foothold: As one of EE's joint-venture partners, it gets a board slot and 12% of BT.
- A deal may take time in coming: As part of the BT/EE deal, Deutsche Telekom can't exceed a 15% stake in BT for three years after the deal's completion.
May 4, 2015, 4:13 AM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) is expected to make its case for the £12.5B takeover of the mobile operator EE this week, beginning a lengthy process that is likely to continue into 2016.
- The Competition and Markets Authority will analyze potential antitrust issues caused by the acquisition and address concerns of rivals.
- Last week, BT was given the go-ahead for the acquisition by its shareholders, with more than 99% voting in favor of the deal.
Apr. 27, 2015, 11:18 AM
- Halfway through a massive investment in its network infrastructure, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) may have found the European market shifting around it, leaving it to play catch-up to rivals, Thao Hua notes.
- The company's £19B ($29B) "Project Spring" plan -- in part funded by selling its stake in Verizon Wireless -- aims to shore up fiber infrastructure in Europe and developing countries. But while it's spent years building Europe's largest mobile network, rivals like Orange (NYSE:ORAN) and Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) have outpaced it in bundling mobile with fixed-line telecom, Internet and TV.
- Raymond James notes a combination with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) would scale up fixed-line assets in Europe -- including the U.K., where Vodafone faces two competitors getting bigger through merger (BT-EE; O2-Hutchison Whampoa) -- but Vodafone is scrambling to digest the acquisitions it's already made.
- Revenues have been slipping and competitive pressure means the payoff for investors may be getting further away.
Feb. 4, 2015, 9:36 PM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) has reportedly put the finishing touches on its £12.5B purchase of EE, the UK's largest mobile operator.
- EE's joint-venture partners each get their piece of the deal: Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) will get a board slot and 12% stake in BT, and Orange SA (NYSE:ORAN) gets more cash and a 4% BT stake.
- The pressure's now on Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), who recently abandoned an effort to get BT broken up and now must try a square-one entry into the British broadband market even as competitors are consolidating (Hutchison Whampoa plans a £10.25B buyout of O2).
- Vodafone will likely pursue forcing the now-giant BT/EE to sell spectrum. “Whatever the regulatory approach it is crucially important that all providers must be able to compete effectively with a combined BT-EE," says a Vodafone spokesman.
- Previously: BT Group profits up; pensions weighing on firm (Jan. 30 2015)
Jan. 22, 2015, 5:20 PM
- The FT reports Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) is "poised to agree a cash deal of more than £10bn ($15B)" to sell British mobile carrier O2 to Hutchison Whampoa, owner of rival carrier Three. A deal could be announced "as early as Friday morning."
- The paper notes the deal would create the U.K.'s largest mobile carrier, claiming 31M+ subs and a 41% market share. EE, which BT is in talks to acquire from Orange (NYSE:ORAN) and Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), claims a 32% share, and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) a 24% share.
- U.K. telecom regulator is bound to closely scrutinize a sale, given its historical preference for wanting four mobile carriers and Three's history of aggressive pricing.
- Telefonica/Hutchison reportedly are looking to argue BT, which (like Vodafone) is looking to offer quad-play bundles, is "already changing the boundaries of how telecoms should be judged alongside TV and broadband services." The FT states regulators are likely to push for O2/Three to sell some of its spectrum for use by MVNOs such as TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, and Virgin Media.
- TEF +0.6% AH. An O2 sale would further Telefonica's efforts to lower its huge debt load. The carrier's net debt stood at €41.2B ($46.8B) as of September.
- Previously: Hutchison in talks for O2 mobile network
- Update: Hutchison says it's in "exclusive talks" to buy O2 from Telefonica for over £10B. Telefonica has confirmed.