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.
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, 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 »
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, 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. 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.
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
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.
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
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)
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. 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. 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.
Sep. 28, 2015, 9:39 AM
- Vodafone (VOD -3.1%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA -3.7%) were among early premarket sliders in telecom today after the two broke off discussions over swapping European assets.
- The cost of insuring Vodafone's debt dropped the most in nearly four months, and bonds of Liberty Global's units fell to their own records. Virgin Media (a likely Vodafone target) saw its January 2025 bonds slip to 92.8c/euro, lowest since issuance, while Germany's Unitymedia bonds fell 5.1 cents to a record low 84.4 cents.
- Barclays reiterated its Overweight rating on the shares with a 250-pence price target. Shares are down 3.7% in London to 209.7p, implying a 19% upside in Barclays' target.
- Previously: Vodafone ends talks with Liberty Global over asset swaps (Sep. 28 2015)
Sep. 28, 2015, 2:48 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) says it's called off talks with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) over a swap of assets.
- Amid rumors of an outright merger earlier this summer, the two confirmed they were talking about swapping some European businesses, but the talks faced challenges from the outset and are over for now.
- The companies never specified which assets -- though the best fit seemed to be where they had heavy overlap: in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. But the UK is Liberty's largest market, and Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market, and it seemed increasingly unlikely the two would bail out of those markets.
- Liberty had long coveted Vodafone's bigger Kabel Deutschland business, while Vodafone probably was looking at Liberty's Virgin Media.
- Previously: Vodafone -2.3% as Liberty Global tie-up seems troubled (Sep. 15 2015)
- Previously: Summer's end may bring resolution for Vodafone, Liberty (Aug. 17 2015)
Sep. 21, 2015, 10:38 AM
- Vodafone (VOD +0.5%) and other rivals of BT Group (BT -0.3%) have renewed their call for radical reform of the UK telecom market, including a competition investigation and a split of wholesale business Openreach from BT Group proper.
- In an open letter in the Financial Times, chiefs of Vodafone UK, Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY) and Daisy Group claim that British regulator Ofcom has found serious problems in the ownership of the national network by BT Openreach.
- For its part, BT Group says that it continues to invest billions in Openreach and that the business is exceeding service targets set by Ofcom.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone's tie-up talks with Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.6%) are snagging over complicated tax arrangements at Liberty and its Virgin Media cable net, The Telegraph reported. The companies have discussed swapping assets, but Liberty reportedly depends on Virgin Media's billions in losses to lower its tax burden.
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
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