Vodafone Group plc (VOD) - NASDAQ
  • Jun. 17, 2015, 9:51 AM
    • Germany's big three wireless carriers have taken the country's multi-band wireless spectrum auction past its 163rd round and matched the bid total from five years ago, with more to come.
    • Telefonica Deutschland (NYSE:TEF), Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) have combined for €4.38B in bids (about $4.9B), the total received in 2010, when there were four bidders.
    • Bidding is ongoing, but has slowed in recent days.
    • Action has been heavy in the 1.8-GHz band -- where Telefonica Deutschland is protecting its stronger position while it skips the unpaired 1.5 GHz sale -- and in 900 MHz.
    • The 700 MHz band (good for city/indoor coverage) is for sale for the first time, and today saw its first offers raised beyond the minimum bid.
    • Deutsche Telekom has been the big bidder in the auction.
    • Previously: Deutsche Telekom leads spending in German spectrum auction (May. 30 2015)
    | Jun. 17, 2015, 9:51 AM
  • Jun. 15, 2015, 11:08 AM
    • Heating up a telecom battle in Australia, incumbent provider Telstra (OTCPK:TLSYY) is accused of putting the country's citizens to a A$3B "price premium" in a new report -- funded by key competitor Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD).
    • The report, from the Centre for International Economics, says Telstra customers are paying A$20/month too much for fixed-line services and A$9/month extra for mobile, and that they are paying 50% more per gigabyte of data.
    • It calls for transmission prices to be set at cost by regulators, as well as for better access to regional spectrum for competitors -- as well as a revamp of a universal-service fee that competitors say is a subsidy to Telstra.
    • Telstra is swinging back at competitors following the report: "The experience of the Australian market makes it clear the companies willing to invest in their network are able to attract more customers and drive increased consumption, while under-investment results in the opposite."
    • With a customer base around 27M (16M mobile), Telstra has a significant lead over peers such as Vodafone (about 5.3M mobile customers in country).
    | Jun. 15, 2015, 11:08 AM
  • Jun. 12, 2015, 9:19 AM
    • As Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) talk about swapping assets in Europe, both companies think increased telecom competition has made Europe's regulators more relaxed about consolidation issues.
    • "We see that big telecoms providers are allowed to merge," Manuel Cubero, chief executive of Vodafone's Kabel Deutschland told Reuters in Germany. "We see that politicians support this trend in order to strengthen the ability of companies to invest."
    • Germany is one epicenter of the swaps discussion as the two companies have heavy overlap in the region. It's Vodafone's largest market by sales and likely hopes to get Liberty cable operations there in any swap -- "The more we grow, the better we can compete with Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) in broadband," says Cubero -- but neither firm may be willing to part with UK business.
    • "The Commission's view of consolidation in the telecom sector in Europe has changed," says Lutz Schueler, head of Liberty's German business Unitymedia.
    • Vodafone's Kabel Deutschland and Liberty's Unitymedia are the No. 1 and No. 2 cable operators in Germany respectively. The country has 29.6M broadband connections, but 23.3M of those are via phone lines and more than half of those controlled by Deutsche Telekom.
    | Jun. 12, 2015, 9:19 AM | 2 Comments
  • Jun. 11, 2015, 9:38 AM
    • It's Vodafone's (NASDAQ:VOD) turn for a probe over customer dealings, as UK regulator Ofcom announced it was looking into complaints about billing and complaint handling.
    • The company's not alone, as Ofcom is also looking into EE (the country's mobile leader) over complaint handling. It fined another provider, Three U.K., £250K last fall over the same issue.
    • UK Regulations require providers there to make sure customers' bills reflect the true extent of service provided, and to have transparent, accessible complaint-handling procedures that they comply with.
    • Vodafone says in a statement that it's improving its network, training and billing procedures.
    | Jun. 11, 2015, 9:38 AM | 2 Comments
  • Jun. 10, 2015, 9:20 AM
    • Three years after it got out, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has gotten back into broadband in the UK, introducing Vodafone Connect in a new effort to compete with bundling plans from BT Group (NYSE:BT).
    • For now, it's just for existing Vodafone customers in certain locations. It plans to extend the service through more areas and to non-customers as the year goes on.
    • The company has a nationwide fiber-optic network passing 20M premises (which it will increase to 22M this summer) that runs at speeds up to 76 Mbps, part of what it acquired in taking on Cable & Wireless Worldwide three years ago.
    • The plans will have 18-month contracts at affordable prices (at first, anyway): Aside from a line rental just under £17/month, plans start at £2.50/month for the first 12, and £5/month for the remainder; the higher-end fiber will be £10/month rising to £20/month.
    • Shares are up slightly, +0.2%, in London trading.
    • Previously: UK regulator fast-tracking review of BT Group/EE merger (Jun. 09 2015)
    | Jun. 10, 2015, 9:20 AM
  • Jun. 9, 2015, 3:28 PM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) CEO Michael Fries was quiet about Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) in particular, but did say that mobile services were an important growth driver that the company needed to add to its older fixed-line and Internet services.
    • It's all about getting into the "quad-play" -- being able to offer bundles with TV, Intenet, landline and mobile phone service -- a trend that is helping drive consolidation across the telecom industry.
    • The quad-play bundle is "an important piece of the puzzle," Fries says. “We see in the U.K. and Belgium that customers become more sticky."
    • Liberty probably wouldn't buy a mobile operator in the UK, though, he said, and in most other markets it's more efficient to rent mobile capacity than to buy it.
    • The company has been in asset-swap talks with Vodafone that are likely hinging on European assets, as there are cost synergies to gain even though an outright merger would be difficult to impossible considering their size.
    • The size also means that Liberty's not a takeover target, Fries says: “We are absolutely not vulnerable, in terms of becoming a target against our own will ... We have great organic growth. There are no deals we need to do to be successful.”
    • Previously: Vodafone -2.2% after dampening Liberty merger talk (Jun. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talks (Jun. 04 2015)
    | Jun. 9, 2015, 3:28 PM
  • Jun. 8, 2015, 12:32 PM
    • Vodafone (VOD +0.6%) has gained as much as 12.5% after John Malone's May 19 comment about how the company would be a "great fit" with his Liberty Global, but some sober thought about regulatory risk for any deal has meant it coming a bit closer to earth, down 5.6% from the 52-week high.
    • Vodafone clarified that the companies were talking about an asset swap and talk now turns to whether Vodafone's board might consider a breakup of the firm in order to ease a deal -- in which case AT&T (NYSE:T) could re-emerge as a buyer, using cash flow from an acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
    • Vodafone is already considering an IPO of its India business, and the other emerging market operations may need to be split off as well. But CEO Vittorio Colao has been opposed to splitting the firm.
    • Oppenheimer speculated earlier this year that AT&T could acquire Vodafone and move its HQ out of the U.S. for tax savings, though the Obama administration planned to fight such strategies.
    • Meanwhile, Bank of America has upgraded Vodafone to Neutral from its previous Underperform, and raised its price target to $38 from $35. Shares are trading today at $37.27.
    • Previously: Vodafone -2.2% after dampening Liberty merger talk (Jun. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone up as Goldman says it may be an asset seller (May. 22 2015)
    | Jun. 8, 2015, 12:32 PM | 7 Comments
  • Jun. 5, 2015, 11:39 AM
    • Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is off 2.2% today after clarifying that it is talking with Liberty Global (LBTYA +1.3%), but about asset swaps instead of an outright merger.
    • A merger would be difficult considering the size of both companies; it would be one of the largest deals ever on enterprise value. But where would asset swaps happen?
    • Swaps would be best where the overlap is heavy: in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. But neither company seems likely to give up on the UK, Thao Hua notes. It's Liberty's largest market (and where it draws a chunk of tax benefits), and Vodafone's home. Meanwhile, Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market.
    • "I do not think Malone wants to exit any of U.K., Germany or Netherlands," Wunderlich's Matthew Harrigan says.
    • Meanwhile, Macquarie's Amy Yong and Guy Peddy point out that "neither Vodafone nor Liberty Global have any track record of integrating wireless and cable TV assets." They had previously described a "more rational" deal for Vodafone would be tying up with Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY) in a content play.
    • They add: "Any deal with Liberty Global would in our view result in a transfer of value from Vodafone to Liberty Global."
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talk (Jun. 04 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone-Liberty still good strategy, but not a slam dunk (Jun. 02 2015)
    | Jun. 5, 2015, 11:39 AM | 3 Comments
  • Jun. 5, 2015, 3:50 AM
    • Putting an end to the speculation, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has confirmed it has held talks with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) to exchange some of their businesses in Europe, but said it was "not in discussions concerning a combination of the two companies."
    • Liberty broke cover on its interest in exploring a potential merger two weeks ago after chairman John Malone pointed to "substantial synergies" should it merge with Vodafone.
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talk (Jun. 04 2015)
    | Jun. 5, 2015, 3:50 AM | 1 Comment
  • Jun. 4, 2015, 5:57 PM
    | Jun. 4, 2015, 5:57 PM | 2 Comments
  • Jun. 2, 2015, 1:59 PM
    • Despite merger talk that has lifted Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) more than 7% in the past two weeks -- and a good strategic case -- a tie-up with John Malone's Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) isn't simple or all that close, Thao Hua notes.
    • Breakups might be required, as neither company is easy to swallow whole (Vodafone's EV is about £90B; Liberty's about $90B). The pair could save nearly $30B if Vodafone's European division was split off (from Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific) and merged with Liberty's in an equity-funded JV.
    • But splitting a business costs as well, and Liberty would probably require operational control to go along. And regulatory issues could be onerous, particularly country by country as different units might combine for market dominance in some areas.
    • Over the same time frame since Malone called a potential combo "a great fit" and reignited speculation, Liberty Global (LBTYA) is up 7.9%.
    • Previously: Vodafone stakeholders: More open to Liberty tie-up (May 28 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone jumps on Malone comments (May 20 2015)
    • Previously: Liberty's Malone: Combo with Vodafone would be 'great fit' (May 19 2015)
    | Jun. 2, 2015, 1:59 PM | 2 Comments
  • May 30, 2015, 3:41 PM
    • A multi-band spectrum auction ongoing in Germany is drawing heaviest bids from Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) so far, with the former monopoly assembling bids close to €761.9M.
    • The auction overall has gotten a total of €1.95B after round 32. Deutsche Telekom is bidding across all four bands offered -- 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz and unpaired 1.5 GHz -- as is Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), which has bid €656.9M. The other player, Telefonica Deutschland (NYSE:TEF), is skipping the 1.5 GHz sale and has bid €534.9M.
    • The stakes are higher than usual at this auction, the first in Europe to sell off the low-frequency 700 MHz band, useful for beaming to rural/industrial areas. It's been in use by terrestrial TV but is being freed up for mobile use and has drawn €450M in bids; winners will be obligated to cover 98% of the population with a minimum speed at the household level of 10 MBps.
    • The 900 MHz band is more popular, with €715.6M in bids.
    | May 30, 2015, 3:41 PM | 1 Comment
  • May 28, 2015, 6:14 PM
    • Vodafone (VOD +1.4%) confirms that, as ordered by regulators, it has sold its 4.2% stake in Bharti Airtel (OTC:BHRQY) for $200M -- to Bharti Enterprises (Holding) Private Limited.
    • A new license regime prohibits cross-holdings between rival companies in the same service area.
    • Vodafone had bought a 10% stake in Bharti Airtel 10 years ago, and the stake was diluted in 2007 as it directly entered India's market.
    | May 28, 2015, 6:14 PM
  • May 28, 2015, 2:50 PM
    • The "great fit" that John Malone spoke of last week between Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Vodafone (VOD +1.1%) is being echoed by key Vodafone investors -- now that they feel like they're in a stronger position for a more equal deal.
    • Some of the telecom's biggest investors have signaled openness to a deal, with one top shareholder saying "There is a strategic rationale to the combination of the assets."
    • Shares in Vodafone reached a 14-year high this week after the Liberty chairman's comments re-opened the door to merger speculation.
    • Analysts figure a deal between the two could bring gross synergies of £16B.
    • It likely comes down to the power balance: "Liberty are still fractionally more in the driving seat but the deal makes strategic sense for both parties ... For the perfect quad play, they need Vodafone as much as Vodafone needs them," said another top shareholder.
    • Liberty A shares (LBTYA) and C shares (NASDAQ:LBTYK) are down 1.9% today; B shares (NASDAQ:LBTYB) are up 0.5%.
    | May 28, 2015, 2:50 PM | 1 Comment
  • May 22, 2015, 10:18 AM
    • Vodafone ADRs (NASDAQ:VOD) are up 1.7% (and shares up 4.4% in London) as Goldman Sachs reports after meeting with company management that Vodafone may sell some assets.
    • With Vodafone moving up this week (ADRs +7.4% since Tuesday) on John Malone's comments that his Liberty Global (LBTYA +2.4%) and Vodafone could be a "great fit," Goldman's Tim Boddy says Vodafone "is willing to consider both acquisitions and disposals where the financial rationale makes sense" and "may be more likely a seller than a buyer of assets."
    • He attributed that to Liberty's preference for tax efficiency vs. Vodafone's preference for dividends -- part of stylistic differences that Malone himself alluded to: "Their philosophy is low leverage, low risk and high cash payout to their shareholders. I prefer to grow equity value."
    | May 22, 2015, 10:18 AM | 4 Comments
  • May 20, 2015, 6:23 AM
    • Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) shares jumped over 4% in London today after John Malone, chairman of cable group Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), opened the door to a long mooted merger of the two groups.
    • Malone called the combination a "great fit" and cited "very substantial synergies if we could find a way to work together or combine the companies with respect to western Europe."
    • A tie-up would create a telecom behemoth, between Liberty's $45B in market value and Vodafone's $93B.
    • Previously: Liberty's Malone: Combo with Vodafone would be 'great fit' (May. 19 2015)
    | May 20, 2015, 6:23 AM
Company Description
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
Sector: Technology
Industry: Wireless Communications
Country: United Kingdom