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Nov. 24, 2015, 6:16 PM
- Liberty Global (LBTYA -1.8%) can see more expansion coming in Europe, but the company won't pursue growth for growth's sake, says chief Mike Fries.
- “We’re not motivated by building empires,” Fries says. “We’re motivated by creating value.”
- Yet as empire-building goes, the company is taking on Caribbean-focused Cable & Wireless (OTCPK:CWIXF) for $8B (including debt), one of well over a dozen $1B-plus acquisitions the company has completed over the past 20 years, with an accumulation of debt to go with that.
- Its equation could have changed entirely with talks over a massive combination with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) -- before they turned into talks over an asset swap and ultimately fizzled. "We never say never," says Fries, "but there is nothing happening at the moment."
- And while John Malone (who holds 24% of voting rights) is known for big dealings, Fries says he leaves the company to pursue its course: “I’ve been chief executive for 10 years and everything we’ve done has been self-created. We have the benefit of [Malone’s] strategic insight and guidance but he is not a puppeteer.”
- Previously: Liberty Global unit selling customers to pursue OK for Belgian takeover (Nov. 20 2015)
- Previously: Malone tripling stake in Lions Gate through Discovery, Liberty Global (Nov. 10 2015)
Nov. 24, 2015, 2:04 PM
- Vodafone (VOD -0.8%) has been hit by a 20B-rupee charge (about $300M) by India's Supreme Court related to the carrier's plans to consolidate four regional units to bring them public.
- That move will let the merger (and eventually, the IPO) go forward -- but it's an interim step, with an ongoing battle over a larger 69B-rupee charge ($1.04B) from India's telecoms regulator still ahead.
- The telecoms ministry is demanding that payment to allow for the IPO, which Vodafone confirmed it was preparing.
- It's not the first or only monetary dispute, though, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley suggests the government may take another look at an ongoing $2.6B tax dispute that dates to the 2007 takeover of Hutchison Essar.
- Next step: Vodafone will contest the $1B payment at a meeting of India's Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.
Nov. 19, 2015, 10:01 AM
- Vodafone ADRs (NASDAQ:VOD) are up 1.3% in U.S. trading as the company sees some analyst updates and plans new debt.
- It's planning to raise £500M in debt via new equity-linked bonds that are due in 2020. Conversion rights will be settled in cash, meaning no dilutive effect on existing shareholders.
- Vodafone will use proceeds for general purposes and buying cash-settled call options.
- Meanwhile, RBC Capital reiterated its Outperform rating on the shares, and Grupo Santander reiterated a Hold rating.
- Shares are up 1% in London to 222.60 pence. The slightly more bullish RBC has a price target of 260 pence (16.8% implied upside) while Santander has a target of 240 pence (7.8% upside).
Nov. 11, 2015, 1:29 PM
- Speaking at Morgan Stanley's investor conference in Barcelona, Vodafone (VOD +1.7%) chief Vittoriao Colao says the company has decided to keep its emerging markets unit together after considering a wholesale spinoff/breakup.
- A spinoff of its farther-flung assets, including interests in India, Africa, New Zealand, Qatar, and Turkey, was more likely during talks this year with Liberty Global over swapping assets. As those talks broke down, though, Colao said the board decided existing synergies justified keeping the group together.
- "We're open-minded," Colao says. "If one day there is a better option we will look at it."
- Vodafone India is progressing toward a separate listing that would include its stake in Indus Towers, though (as with the rest of the industry) the towers interest is ripe for a potential separate spinoff.
- Previously: With Liberty Global deal off, Vodafone returns to big-market growth focus (Oct. 07 2015)
Nov. 10, 2015, 4:56 AM
- Highlighting the continued recovery of its key European markets, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) raised its full-year earnings guidance despite swinging to a first-half loss on infrastructure costs.
- The group posted a return to EBITDA growth in the first half of 1.7% to £5.8B, while recording a net loss for the period of £1.7B, compared with a £5.42B profit a year ago.
- Vodafone now expects full-year EBIDTA of between £11.7B-£12B vs. a previous £11.5B.
- VOD +4% premarket.
Nov. 4, 2015, 12:09 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), BT Group (NYSE:BT) and Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY) are among the UK Internet service providers who would have to store user access histories for up to a year if a new rule proposal takes effect.
- The regulation, proposed by Home Secretary Theresa May, would compel carriers to store records that would allow police to see if customers accessed apps (such as Google Maps) but wouldn't require records of full Web browsing history, she says.
- May is working to consolidate a number of rules updates in the Investigatory Powers Bill, despite concern from critics over civil liberties.
Oct. 31, 2015, 5:53 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) says it's contacting about 1,800 customers after intruders accessed subscriber details this week.
- Phone numbers and some bank details were taken, but no credit/debit card details, the carrier says. Vodafone noticed intrusion attempts on Thursday morning and started to investigate.
- Other telecoms have recently suffered as customer data was breached, including T-Mobile and fellow UK carrier TalkTalk Telecom (OTC:TKTCY), which received a ransom demand from system crackers.
- Previously: Lawsuits gathering for T-Mobile, Experian over data breach (Oct. 07 2015)
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. 16, 2015, 11:58 AM
- With tensions between Russia and Ukraine at a boil, Russia's leading wireless carrier Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -1%) has a new deal with longtime partner Vodafone (VOD +0.7%) to lease its brand for Ukrainian operations.
- For MTS, that means leaving behind a brand valued at $12B, but considering the countries' relationship, "the value of Vodafone brand is much higher," says MTS Ukraine's Oleg Prozhyvalsky.
- Ukraine represented about 8% of MTS revenue last year. Meanwhile, Ukrainian lawmakers have threatened to annul licenses for companies from countries "that carry out aggression against Ukraine or create pre-conditions for military conflict."
- “Perception of a Russian brand in Ukraine has probably worsened amid political tensions,” said UralSib Capital analyst Konstantin Belov. “Still, rebranding requires costs and it remains to be seen how this will pay back.”
Oct. 13, 2015, 11:23 PM
- Voice over LTE is coming to Vodafone Australia (NASDAQ:VOD) this year, but only for select Samsung devices at the moment.
- The move makes Vodafone the second Australian provider to offer general VoLTE, as Telstra (OTCPK:TLSYY) said it's progressively rolling out the service to its postpaid subscribers (also to Samsung devices, and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus).
- It's the first step in moving all voice traffic to 4G, says Vodafone Australia CTO Benoit Hanssen.
- Voice over LTE promises longer battery life as well as shorter call set-up times for subscribers.
Oct. 13, 2015, 9:14 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is off 2% premarket despite Deutsche Bank reiterating its Buy rating.
- The firm set a 270-pence price target. In London, shares have fallen 1.2% to 208.23p, implying a near-30% upside.
- Berenberg Bank reiterated its Buy rating as well, with 264p target.
- Vodafone ADRs have gained 4.7% over the past 12 months but are off 11.4% in the past three months.
- The company is expecting to release its half-year earnings report Nov. 10.
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)
Oct. 8, 2015, 10:29 AM
- India's Bombay High Court has ruled in favor of Vodafone (VOD -0.4%) in a $1.3B tax case between the carrier and India's government.
- The case had to do with transfer pricing in international transactions, which often prompt questions about how to value the deals for tax purposes.
- “We hope the government won’t file an appeal,” says Vodafone lawyer Balbir Singh.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made stable tax rules a policy focus following previous disputes with multinational companies.
Oct. 7, 2015, 12:45 PM
- The breakdown of talks over a tie-up with Liberty Global (LBTYA -0.3%) means that Vodafone (VOD -1.1%) and CEO Vittorio Colao will need a more unglamorous strategy of cable and network investments to start paying off.
- The carrier is now getting calls from bankers to go forward with floating its India mobile business. Management will be focused on running its biggest markets to return to steady growth.
- "We really need to see an operational turnaround in Europe in this fiscal year," says Axa's Bruno Grandsard. "That is priority number 1, 2, and 3, including the integration of cable assets in Germany and Spain."
- Vodafone had bought Kabel Deutschland in Germany and Ono in Spain to compete with incumbents in those countries. Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market, and Kabel Deutschland has been coveted by Liberty Global in talks about European asset swaps.
- Despite the breakdown of those talks, observers inside and outside Vodafone think Liberty Global will come calling again eventually, possibly a year from now, with the promise of some €20B in cost savings, largely in the UK and Germany.
Oct. 6, 2015, 2:30 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has set a master services agreement with UK dark-fiber specialist CityFibre for connectivity to its cell sites and to some enterprise customers, starting with York.
- The move comes as CityFibre and mobile providers may be looking for backhaul alternatives to BT Group (NYSE:BT), which is planning to take over EE, the country's biggest mobile operator, and thus get into mobile competition.
- CityFibre also has a deal to provide connectivity to a joint venture between EE and Three UK -- a pact that could change with the BT/EE merger.
- CityFibre is up 6.7% in London trading.
- Previously: Vodafone call: CEO Colao again presses for BT breakup (Jul. 24 2015)
- Previously: UK regulator fast-tracking review of BT Group/EE merger (Jun. 09 2015)
- Previously: BT wraps £12.5B deal to buy Britain's largest mobile firm (Feb. 04 2015)
Oct. 2, 2015, 12:50 PM
- Vodafone UK (VOD +1.7%) has launched new Rich Communications Services to add new features to phone calls, though so far there's no indication of it rolling out voice over LTE.
- Its Call+ offering adds context and file-sharing to regular voice calls, following up on Wi-Fi calling rolled out last month.
- With Rich Communications Services, customers can share fiels including maps, pictures and contact details during a call, as well as set subject lines and importance for calls before they start, or add text notes alongside missed calls.
- The features work on Android smartphones at the moment.
Vodafone Group PLC is engaged in providing voice and data communications services for all types of customers. The Company has presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific region and the United States.
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