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  • Thu, Aug. 25, 10:48 AM
    • VimpelCom (VIP +0.2%) and Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) are set to get EU approval of a long-in-the-works Italy operation merger as soon as next week, Bloomberg reports.
    • The two have pressed to combine their Wind Telecomunicazioni and Three Italia into Italy's largest wireless carrier via an $8.9B transaction, but have been pursuing that deal against the backdrop of a European Commission taking a hard line on competition. The EC blocked Hutchison's attempt to merge its Three UK with O2.
    • But a revised plan from the two hopefuls included sales of spectrum, sites and services, and allowing France's Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) to enter the Italian market as a new competitor.
    • Approval would affect the stock of current market leader Telecom Italia (TI +1.1%), which tumbled last month when VimpelCom and Hutchison submitted new merger plans, and of Vodafone (VOD -0.6%).
    | Thu, Aug. 25, 10:48 AM | 4 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 24, 3:30 PM
    • Idea Cellular is exploring a merger with Vodafone India (NASDAQ:VOD) to create India's biggest telecom, CNBC-TV18 reports.
    • Idea, the third-largest telecom in India, has blasted the report as "baseless and absolutely false" and "preposterous." Vodafone India is the second-biggest provider; the two combined would outsize No. 1 Bharti Airtel.
    • Sources told CNBC-TV18 that the two companies were engaged in discussing strategic options that could result in a full combination. That would preclude Vodafone India's moves toward an initial public offering.
    • Such a deal would run into challenges, including clearance from the Competition Commission, considering that market share would rise about 50% in some areas.
    | Wed, Aug. 24, 3:30 PM | 4 Comments
  • Fri, Aug. 12, 2:19 PM
    • As it prepares a merger with the Dutch unit of Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), Ziggo Group (LBTYA -0.3%) has more than doubled its debt-raising plans, to $3.9B, Bloomberg reports.
    • It now is said to be raising €2.6B (about $2.9B) in a leveraged euro-denominated loan and $1B in a dollar loan.
    • That comes in an environment of higher appetite for risky assets, and an average loan price in Europe of 97.6 cents/euro.
    • Last week, a usually reticent European Commission gave its approval to the merger of Ziggo and Vodafone Netherlands, conditioned on Vodafone selling its fixed-line business there.
    | Fri, Aug. 12, 2:19 PM
  • Wed, Aug. 3, 10:20 AM
    • The European Commission has approved a merger in the Netherlands of Liberty Global's (LBTYA +1.6%) cable firm Ziggo with Vodafone Netherlands (VOD +0.4%), on the condition that Vodafone sell its fixed business.
    • Liberty Global has jumped from an open in the red to positive ground this morning.
    • That makes a strong competitor to incumbent provider Royal KPN (OTCPK:KKPNY). Ziggo is the Netherlands' top cable provider, and Vodafone is the second-largest mobile operator.
    • The two companies had reportedly offered concessions last month to get the deal done, and it appears the EC's main concern was Vodafone's quick expansion in the fixed-line market.
    • In keeping with other such regulatory reviews, the EC denied a request from the Dutch competition regulator to probe the deal but said it consulted with the agency in its review.
    | Wed, Aug. 3, 10:20 AM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Jul. 29, 12:55 PM
    • Europe is set to sign off on a high-profile merger of Dutch operations between Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.7%) and Vodafone (VOD +0.4%) following some concessions, Reuters reports.
    • That news is coming despite a tough regulatory regime that has scratched potential country mergers elsewhere, including a deal in Denmark between TeliaSonera and Telenor.
    • Liberty and Vodafone offered concessions July 12 to get the deal done, sources told Reuters.
    • The two would form the second-biggest telecom in the Netherlands and present a better competitive face to incumbent Royal KPN (OTCPK:KKPNY).
    | Fri, Jul. 29, 12:55 PM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Jul. 28, 3:23 PM
    • Italian utility giant Enel (OTCPK:ENLAY) is going to push incumbent Telecom Italia (TI -0.3%) in a quest for a new high-speed network for the country, with an agreement to merge its fiber unit with Metroweb Italia.
    • Telecom Italia had been pursuing its own deal for Metroweb in the spring. Italy's average landline Internet speeds are among the lowest in Europe.
    • Metroweb was assigned an enterprise value of €814M (about $903M), and stakes in the combined company will be shared by Enel and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, which controls Metroweb along with infrastructure fund F2i.
    • Repurposing Enel's power cabinets to create fiber infrastructure will give TI competitors like Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) an easier way to provide access to customers who are demanding faster Internet.
    | Thu, Jul. 28, 3:23 PM | 1 Comment
  • Fri, Jul. 8, 1:57 PM
    • European regulators are set to clear a long-in-the-works mobile merger in Italy, Reuters reports.
    • The European Commission -- lately prone to blocking telecom consolidation on the continent -- is ready to sign off on a €21.8B combination of Three Italia, owned by Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY), with Wind Telecomunicazioni, owned by VimpelCom (VIP +1.7%).
    • Hutchison saw a similar deal blocked by the EC, to merge its Three UK unit with Telefonica's O2.
    • The move would make the combo the biggest wireless provider in Italy, competing against Vodafone (VOD +1.3%) and Telecom Italia (TI +2.3%), though Hutchison and VimpelCom agreed to concessions and asset sales to help create a new entrant in France's low-cost provider Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY -4.2%).
    • The EC is scheduled to officially rule on the case by Sept. 8.
    | Fri, Jul. 8, 1:57 PM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Jun. 9, 4:05 AM
    • As the world's biggest telecoms continue to pivot toward TV and online video, Britain's Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has agreed to a combine its New Zealand operations through a $2.4B merger with the local unit of Sky Network (OTC:SKKTY).
    • "This is a significant and positive step in Sky's evolution," CEO John Fellet said in a statement.
    • Vodafone NZ has 2.35M mobile connections and more than 500K fixed-line connections in the country. Sky has over 830K subscribers.
    • VOD -1.6% premarket
    | Thu, Jun. 9, 4:05 AM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Apr. 21, 10:57 AM
    • Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -2%) is actively pushing Telecom Italia (TI -0.1%) toward a sale of its Brazilian unit, TIM Participaçoes (TSU +1.8%), sources tell CTFN.
    • The French media giant's stance on TIM was a clear catalyst for the March departure of Marco Patuano as TI's chief executive, as Patuano was inclined to hold on to the business.
    • A series of machinations over the past year took place around the possible merger of TIM with debt-laden carrier Oi (OIBR -3.5%) before the prospects of a deal imploded.
    • An M&A lawyer said that when Vivendi inherited its Telecom Italia stake in 2014 (via its sale of broadband company GVT to Telefonica), it was already expressing an interest in getting out of Brazil and taking charge of TI as a media platform.
    • Rivals Telefonica Brasil (VIV -0.2%) and Claro (AMX +1.5%) aren't likely candidates to take over TIM due to regulatory issues. Oi is surely a candidate again, but more desperate for a move than TIM. Brazil might go for a bid from someone like Vodafone (VOD -0.8%), though.
    • Now read Oi's Debt Restructuring: A 4-Player Chess Game »
    | Thu, Apr. 21, 10:57 AM | 4 Comments
  • 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)
    | Tue, Mar. 1, 4:58 PM
  • Tue, Feb. 16, 1:03 AM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) are merging Dutch operations in a joint venture, in a bit of an appetizer before what could be a broader combination of operations in the future.
    • It's a big appetizer, though -- the 50/50 venture is valued at more than €19B -- and the companies said discussions around the Netherlands venture haven't ranged into any other areas.
    • The venture will sell mobile and cable under both companies' brands (Ziggo and Vodafone), and Vodafone will pay €1B as part of the deal to equalize their ownership.
    • It will have more than 15M revenue-generating units, and the companies expect after the deal closes later this year that they'll see cost and revenue synergies of €3.5B (and €350M in integration costs).
    | Tue, Feb. 16, 1:03 AM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Feb. 2, 9:49 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD -2%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA -0.5%) are back and talking about possible asset swaps again, after talks about trades in Europe (and maybe a merger?) fell apart last year, Bloomberg reports.
    • Sources said the talks restarted since the beginning of 2016 and could include asset swaps and co-investments in "several" European countries.
    • Again, though, talks are likely to center on the Netherlands (where Liberty wants to grow) and the UK and Germany, the largest markets for the two.
    • After gaining earlier in London, shares are down 1.6% there and ADRs are off 2% on a day where the broader U.S. market is off to a rough start.
    | Tue, Feb. 2, 9:49 AM | 2 Comments
  • 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.
    | Fri, Jan. 29, 1:52 AM
  • 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.
    | Wed, Jan. 20, 8:21 PM | 7 Comments
  • 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. 31, 2015, 9:41 AM | 3 Comments
  • 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, 6:16 PM