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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, 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 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 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 19, 2015, 6:08 PM
- Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) rose into today's close, +2.3%, as telecom titan John Malone says a combination of his firm and Vodafone (VOD -0.9%) would be a "great fit" with "very substantial synergies if we could find a way to work together or combine the companies with respect to Western Europe."
- Malone was making his first public comments on a combination in an interview with Bloomberg, though he wouldn't comment on whether the companies were talking. A tie-up would create a telecom behemoth, between Liberty's $45B in market value and Vodafone's $93B.
- Citigroup has said a stock-based combination could generate synergies of £1.4B/year in free cash flow. But Malone is aware of philosophical differences in approach: “Their philosophy is low leverage, low risk and high cash payout to their shareholders. I prefer to grow equity value.”
- Liberty has been acquisitive in Europe and is also seeking targets in faster-growing South America, and Mexico -- a market Malone considers most attractive.
- Previously: Vodafone -3.8% following signs of life in FQ4 earnings (May. 19 2015)
May 19, 2015, 10:14 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is 3.8% lower in early U.S. trade, trailing its decline in London, after an earnings report that was encouraging for its revenue trends as well as solid growth in EBITDA despite fierce competition in its markets.
- Revenue grew for the first time in 11 quarters (boosted by results in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific) and the company forecast full-year core earnings growth (to £11.5B-£12B) after seven years of declines.
- Profit of £5.76B declined substantially but it was compared against a year-ago quarter when the company got a one-time contribution of £48.2B from selling its share of its JV with Verizon.
- The company had slightly more subscribers at quarter's end, totaling 445.8M mobile subscribers and 12M fixed-line (up from 11.8M).
- Citigroup analysts called the results in line -- "We see the positives as probably not quite positive enough to keep the stock moving up today."
- After earnings, Vodafone renewed its call on regulators to clamp down on BT Group's acquisition of EE, and for deal concessions to "avoid the re-creation of a giant, dominating company."
May 19, 2015, 3:59 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) posted a rise in its quarterly sales measurement for the first time in nearly three years this morning, although the company's earnings remained under pressure. Net profit in the year to March 31 fell to £5.76B, from £59.3B a year ago.
- Heavy competition has hit Vodafone both abroad and in its home market, where it is the No. 3 mobile carrier. In the U.K., BT and EE recently agreed to combine, while O2 and Hutchison Whampoa decided to merge their mobile networks.
- Vodafone shares are down 2.7% in London.
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.
Apr. 21, 2015, 10:04 AM
- After weeks of speculation, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has reportedly started early talks on a bid for Portugal cable operator Cabovisao, which owner Altice (OTC:ATCEY) must sell (along with Oni) in order to get an OK to take over Portugal Telecom.
- The talks kick off a process that should last through the summer. The EU has approved Altice's deal with Portugal Telecom conditional on its sales of the Portuguese businesses.
- The arrangement was shaped by the EC's concerns about ensuring consumers didn't face higher prices and lower competition through the deals.
Apr. 9, 2015, 10:00 PM
- In a new report on fiber, DSL and cable broadband subscribers, Infonetics Research projects that consumers are driving global fixed broadband adoption toward a 5% compound annual growth rate through 2019, from a current base of 733M (up 8% last year).
- Global growth will lead the way, the firm says, especially in China (Asia Pacific has 50% of the world's fixed broadband subscribers, and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) is the worldwide share leader) -- as well as Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Arrgentina, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Other insights: DSL's still the biggest technology, but growth is coming via fiber-to-the-home and DOCSIS 3.0 cable; and FTTH subscribers grew 22% last year to cross the 100M-subscriber line.
- U.S.-traded players in the firm's report: T, BT, CHA, CHU, CHT, CMCSA, OTCQX:DTEGY, OTCPK:KDDIY, KT, NTT, ORAN, OTCQX:ROSYY, TI, TEF, OTCPK:TELNY, OTCPK:TLSNY, OTC:TMXLF, OTCPK:TLSYY, TWC, OTC:TRKNY, VZ, VIP, VOD
Mar. 30, 2015, 1:16 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is adding customer credit cards to its mobile wallet, via deals with service providers Visa (NYSE:V) and Carta Worldwide.
- The agreements will allow Vodafone customers to add their credit card details on their mobile phone's SIM card and enable contactless payment (via near-field communications) using the cards.
- Previously, customers had to use Vodafone's own prepaid account for such payments.
- Vodafone's wallet is available in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy and the new card system will be available from Q2. The company declined to make many forecasts about a business with low penetration where key competitors like Apple are just beginning their own forays.
Mar. 27, 2015, 7:34 PM
- Companies made key bets on India's wireless phone industry this week -- and Idea Cellular made the biggest of all -- in a spectrum auction that drew $17.6B overall.
- Idea -- India's No. 3 wireless carrier -- spent the most among carriers, with 300B rupees ($4.8B) in bids across three different bands (900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz).
- Bharti Airtel (291B rupees, or $4.65B) and Vodafone (VOD; 259.6B rupees, or $4.15B) spent nearly as much. The three dominated the auction bidding due to license renewals they had to accomplish before a December expiration. Overall, bidders focused on 4G bandwidth in order to grow more high-speed services.
- The size of the auction raised eyebrows, and Idea said it would take advantage of a government-offered deferred payment.
- In a reflection of the recent U.S. wireless auction, Bharti Airtel complained about the auction format: "We hope that in future auctions, the government will make available adequate spectrum by securing it from agencies and operators who are underutilizing this vital resource," said the company's regional CEO Gopal Vittal.
- Profitability is on the rise among Indian carriers, with 120M smartphone users in country and sliding handset prices expected to fuel further subscriber growth.
Mar. 23, 2015, 7:06 PM
- The long road to Hutchison Whampoa's (OTCPK:HUWHY) £10.5B ($15.7B) purchase of British wireless firm O2 (NYSE:TEF) is close to its end, and a deal could be announced Tuesday morning, the Financial Times reports.
- A merger of O2 with Hutchison's Three will turn UK mobile into a three-party race, divided between the new entity, Vodafone and leader EE. It'll draw regulatory attention, but similar European deals have been approved in other countries.
- Hutchison is likely to get outside financing help, selling about 30% of the group to investors, possibly from Qatar, Singapore or Canada.
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) -- which raised competitive concerns about BT Group's acquisition of EE -- will also express concern about this tie-up, as it has a network-sharing agreement with O2.
- Previously: BT wraps £12.5B deal to buy Britain's largest mobile firm (Feb. 04 2015)
- Previously: FT: Telefonica set to sell O2 to Hutchison for $15B+ (updated) (Jan. 22 2015)
Mar. 19, 2015, 4:21 PM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has signed a letter of intent with investor F2i to buy a stake in Italian fiber network owner Metroweb Italia, Bloomberg reports. F2i currently owns 54% of Metroweb, whose metro and long-haul fiber services reach the northern cities of Milan, Genoa, and Bologna.
- No financial details are mentioned in the LOI, but two sources state Vodafone might fund a capital increase of as much as €500M ($532M) in Metroweb unit Metroweb Sviluppo Srl.
- The investment would further Vodafone's multi-year effort to offer (through a mixture of acquisitions, investments, and partnerships) mobile/wireline service bundles throughout the EU. It would also bolster an Italian unit that has seen sales fall sharply amid tough price competition and the cannibalization of voice/SMS services by Web-based offerings.
- Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) reportedly held talks to buy a stake in Metroweb earlier this year, only to see them break down over disagreements about Metroweb's ownership structure. Bloomberg's report comes as Hutchison goes after fellow Italian carrier Wind (owned by VimpelCom).
Mar. 13, 2015, 5:29 PM
- Hutchison Whampoa's (OTCPK:HUWHY) been doing its level best to consolidate European telecoms -- by itself if need be -- but very lengthy talks over acquiring VimpelCom's (NASDAQ:VIP) Italian unit Wind Telecomunicazioni are key to cementing its foothold in the continent.
- Hutchison's 3 Italia is the smallest player of Italy's four, with Wind being the third-largest. If the two (finally) merge, they'd have about a third of the market, roughly equal to that of leader Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD).
- Hong Kong-based Hutchison is pushing a $15B takeover of British firm O2 from Telefonica, and has already acquired Orange Austria and O2 Ireland.
- Talks between Hutchison and Wind have been going on for over a year, but in the meantime, Wind's lost customers and gained debt (its net debt is now nearly 5x 2014 EBITDA).
- Previously: FT: VimpelCom, Hutchison again close to closure on Italy merger (Mar. 10 2015)
- Previously: VimpelCom, Hutchison reportedly closer to merging Italy operations (Feb. 17 2015)
Mar. 10, 2015, 9:10 PM
- It's a headline you've heard a few times before, but VimpelCom (VIP +1.7%) and Hutchison Whampoa (OTCPK:HUWHY -1.2%) are in the advanced stages of merging their Italian units, the Financial Times reports.
- For more than a year, the two firms have been discussing how to merge VimpelCom's Wind Telecomunicazioni and Hutchison's Three Italia, the third- and fourth-largest of four competitors in Italy. But a breakthrough may mean Hutchison might get a 51% share of the combination and finally bring it to closure.
- Sound familiar? In a four-competitor market, the smallest two have launched a damaging price war that's pressured everyone in the market. If the two merge, they'd have about a third of the space, roughly equal to that of Telecom Italia (TI -3.4%) and of Vodafone (VOD -1.7%).
- Previously: VimpelCom, Hutchison reportedly closer to merging Italy operations (Feb. 17 2015)
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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