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
Tue, Jan. 26, 11:35 AM
- Vodafone (VOD +1.5%) is outpacing broader market gains after a round of generally bullish analyst reports, including an upgrade from Jefferies Group to Buy.
- Jefferies bumped its price target to 250 pence, from 230; implying 14.3% upside from current London prices of 218.80p. Shares are up 0.1% in London.
- Barclays also reiterated its Overweight rating (also with a 250-pence price target), and Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating (with a lower 230-pence price target).
- Meanwhile, Grupo Santander reiterated its Hold rating and a 240-pence target.
Wed, Jan. 20, 8:21 PM
- Vodafone (VOD -2.1%) looks to be moving ahead with a public offering of its India wireless business -- a deal that could be a gateway to asset spinoffs or even more merger talk.
- Heavy chatter about a merger with Liberty Global (LBTYA -1.5%) covered much of last year, though it pivoted to more modest talk of asset swaps in Europe before even those discussions were called off. A New Year's Eve report posited that merger talks were back on.
- AT&T (T -1.7%) is said to be a prospective merger partner too, now that its acquisition of DirecTV is settled.
- Vodafone still has a tax issue to sort out with India, and it could use a March spectrum auction to fill out local markets for 4G service. And then: "Statements made by Group CEO Vittorio Colao make us believe a listing in 2016 is not only possible ... but probable — especially as we expect outstanding tax cases to finally get resolved and missing 4G spectrum gaps filled," says Bernstein's Chris Lane.
Tue, Jan. 12, 6:38 PM
- Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) has agreed to pay €2.4B (about $2.61B) for Spanish soccer broadcast rights -- an important catch-up to rivals Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) and Orange (NYSE:ORAN), which already show the games.
- The company is paying for rights to Spanish first division and two other tournaments for three years starting with the upcoming season, and it will also show the European Champions and UEFA leagues on its Movistar brand.
- BeIN Sports will join Telefonica's pay TV service based on a partnership with Mediaproduccion SLU, which is selling the rights. Telefonica now controls about 85% of Spain's pay TV market.
- Elsewhere, Telefonica got a €14.00 price target from JPMorgan. Shares closed up 0.2% to €9.49 in Madrid, implying 48% upside in the target. JPMorgan rates the stock a Buy.
- Shares are -0.3% after hours in U.S. trading.
Dec. 31, 2015, 9:57 AM
- With Australia ringing in the New Year, telecoms took steps to prepare for a heavy increase in overnight traffic, including huge numbers around fireworks hot spots.
- Vodafone Australia (NASDAQ:VOD) and Telstra (OTCPK:TLSYY) both forecast heavy jumps in texts, calls and data usage and planned to deal with the surge with a multi-pronged approach including portable cells as well as apps and Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Vodafone planned heavy use of "cells on wheels" as it foresaw texts more than doubling during the festivities, to about 3.2M/hour in the overnight period.
- Telstra expected 11.5M texts to cross its network between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., and a total of 900M GB of data to be downloaded, twice as much as a year ago, along with 57M texts and 39M calls.
- It's pushed customers to use a New Year's Eve app that preloads a few dozen texts that it would automatically send at midnight for free. It also won exclusive rights to stream fireworks shows through that app as well as its website and YouTube channel.
Dec. 31, 2015, 9:41 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is up 1.5% in early going, and Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) up 2.8%, after the Daily Mail covered chatter about a large tie-up to come early in the new year.
- "Apparently corporate financiers have been working long hours over the festive period" on a potential £140B merger between the two, Geoff Foster writes -- though a much discussed asset swap is still more likely, and all talks fizzled out a few months back.
- Dealers are saying that Liberty's John Malone is pursuing new talks and the companies are getting favorable nods from major investors for a friendly deal, Foster says.
- Previous deal coverage
Dec. 21, 2015, 3:23 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has turned on its first cell tower that's part of Australia's mobile blackspot program, designed to add and improve coverage in regional and remote areas of the country.
- The firm activated a tower bringing coverage to White Rock Wind Farm in the New England region of New South Wales, the first of a planned 28 total sites with new and upgraded coverage in the region.
- The company is adding or upgrading 70 base stations across the country as part of the blackspot program.
- Australia had previously pledged A$100M to address coverage issues in the regions, which are targeted along transport routes, regional cities and places prone to natural disasters.
Dec. 16, 2015, 9:24 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is up 2.4% premarket in U.S. trading after Deutsche Bank reiterated its Buy rating on the stock.
- Shares are up 2.2% in London. In the past week, other firms have set bullish price targets for the stock; Morgan Stanley (which has a Buy rating) holds a price target of 270 pence -- which implies 26% upside from current price of 214.20 pence.
- Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs (which holds a Neutral rating) has a price target of 240 pence (about 12% upside).
- Vodafone this morning said its Netherlands unit would partner with IBM on a mobile push for business clients, using IBM MobileFirst solutions to improve infrastructure, apps and services for enterprise customers.
Nov. 25, 2015, 10:40 AM
- Vodafone (VOD +2%) has decided to pull a bond offering rather than give in to investor demands over risk protection.
- The carrier planned an investment-grade deal of up to $2B, but balked as investors pressed for a change-of-control provision and wouldn't accept coupon step-ups that would come with credit agency downgrades.
- The change-of-control provision (forcing issuers to redeem bonds in case of takeover/merger) would have set an unwanted precedent at Vodafone, bankers suggested, and the carrier didn't want to do that or compensate with a wider spread.
- A similar risk-protection issue sunk a deal backing Carlyle Group's leveraged buyout of Veritas last week, as investors have grown demanding over bond terms following some high-profile change-of-control failures (as in Cablevision bondholders left dry when junk-rated Altice came in to buy the company).
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)
Vodafone Group Plc is a telecommunications company. It provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data, and fixed communications; unified communication solutions; Vodafone One Net, a converged service, which combines fixed and mobile services for various businesses; carrier voice... More
Industry: Wireless Communications
Country: United Kingdom
Other News & PR