Oct. 16, 2014, 10:09 AM
- New worries about the health of Greece's troubled banks have contributed to a selloff in European markets, one that has taken a toll on the continent's debt-laden telcos. The ECB is reportedly mulling a funding package for Greek banks.
- Decliners: VOD -3.1%. TEF -4.2%. ORAN -4.5%. TI -6.5%. PT -3.9%.
Oct. 10, 2014, 12:40 PM
- The Bombay High Court has ruled in Vodafone's (VOD -0.8%) favor in a long-running tax dispute with the Indian government. Authorities had been seeking INR30B ($490M) on account of the alleged under-pricing of shares by Vodafone's Indian unit in a rights offering to the parent company.
- Vodafone is still battling a $2B+ tax demand related to its '07 acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa's Indian mobile ops. The carrier had 166.6M Indian subs at the end of its June quarter, and spent $3B on Indian spectrum earlier this year.
- Earlier this week, Vodafone said it would invest another $1B to upgrade its Indian network and retail stores, as it relies on India and other emerging markets to offset declining European service revenue. India's low ARPU (currently around $3/month) remains a challenge.
Oct. 9, 2014, 9:48 AM
- Nomura's James Britton has downgraded Vodafone (VOD -2.8%) to Neutral, and lowered his target by 10p to 180p.
- Britton observes Vodafone trades at a slight forward EBITDA premium to peers (7x vs. 6.5x), and thinks competitive pressures could grow over the next 12 months.
- He forecasts new market entrants in the U.K., India, and the Netherlands, tougher competition from existing carriers in Germany, South Africa, and Turkey, and further cannibalization of voice revenue by data services among European business clients.
- U.S. shares are close to their 52-week low of $31.87.
Oct. 8, 2014, 3:48 AM
- Telecom operator Swisscom (OTCPK:SCMWY) is considering a sale of its Italian broadband firm Fastweb, which has been previously targeted by Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD).
- Swisscom acquired Fastweb for €4.2B in 2007, and has so far been unwilling to sell the company. The broadband company could be worth up to €5B ($6.3B) based on 2013 EBITDA of 620M Swiss francs.
- A source tells Reuters that while Vodafone is not currently in talks with Swisscom, it remains interested in a Fastweb acquisition.
Sep. 23, 2014, 1:01 PM
- Tech news site BSN, not historically a major source for telecom M&A rumors: "Sources close to both Vodafone (VOD +0.3%) and AT&T (T -0.7%) have said that executives from the two companies are laying the groundwork for a possible acquisition, merger or partnership ... AT&T is seen to take ownership of Vodafone and its various business units around the globe by first quarter of 2015."
- Vodafone has turned positive on the report; shares were previously down over 1%. AT&T/Vodafone rumors are, of course, nothing new. However, the DirecTV deal and AT&T's reported displeasure with Vodafone's wireline expansion efforts have led to a measure of investor skepticism about them.
- SoftBank has also been rumored to be a potential Vodafone suitor, given the company has abandoned (for now) its efforts to merge Sprint with T-Mobile, and is sitting on an Alibaba stake currently worth a pre-tax $70B.
Sep. 19, 2014, 1:59 PM
- Vodafone (VOD +0.1%) is buying 140 stores from Phones4u, a U.K. phone retailer that was recently taken into administration. 900 former Phones4u employees will be hired along the way.
- As one would expect, the stores will be re-branded under Vodafone's name. Until this year, Phones4u had a partnership with Vodafone, as well as fellow U.K. carriers EE and O2.
- Vodafone's U.K. ops saw their service revenue fall 3.2% Y/Y in the June quarter to £1.47B, as enterprise, prepaid, and wireline declines offset postpaid growth.
Sep. 7, 2014, 10:43 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is developing a new mobile payments service with Visa (NYSE:V) which will allow for contactless payments via SIM cards embedded with NFC technology. The new service will be catered to users in the U.K., having previously introduced similar services in Italy, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
- Customers will need to swap SIMs for NFC-enabled versions and have a compatible handset. The app will only be available on Android smartphones.
- Launching the service later this year, Vodafone will probably be beaten to the market by Apple, which is expected to integrate mobile payments into its new iPhone due to be unveiled this week.
- Usage will be restricted to payments below £25 for regulatory reasons, although the company hopes to introduce a PIN-protected way to make larger payments in the future.
Sep. 2, 2014, 10:38 AM
- The Nikkei speculates SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF) could make an offer for Vodafone (VOD +0.5%), given a Sprint/T-Mobile deal is off the table for now. Vodafone has turned positive after starting the day in the red.
- Though Sprint/T-Mobile has been shelved, SoftBank just raised $3.9B in debt, a move viewed by many as a precursor to fresh M&A activity. Moreover, SoftBank will soon have a chance to monetize its 34.1% Alibaba stake (could be worth over $60B pre-tax following the IPO).
- Nonetheless, Vodafone ($91B market cap) would be a very big fish for SoftBank ($87B market cap) to digest. This isn't the first time speculation about a deal between the carriers has emerged.
- Previous: Questionable Vodafone/AT&T rumor emerges
- Update (1:05PM ET): Shares have given back their gains, and are now down 0.6%.
Aug. 22, 2014, 10:03 AM
- Vodafone (VOD +1.3%) is paying €72.7M ($97M) to acquire a 72.7% stake in Greek broadband/phone service provider Hellas Online. The deal will bring Vodafone's total stake above 91%, and is expected to close in Q4.
- Hellas had 519K customers at the end of 2013, good for an estimated 11% local share. It had 2013 revenue of €227.4M, and EBITDA of €68.4M.
- The deal follows Vodafone's acquisitions of German cable provider Kabel Deutschland and Spanish cable provider ONO, as the carrier pushes ahead with its goal of offering mobile/wireline bundles (both by itself, and via partnerships) throughout Europe.
- Separately, The Daily Mail has passed on a rumor that AT&T's (NYSE:T) advisers are now "working around the clock on a cash bid worth more than £3 a share" for Vodafone.
- The rumor should be taken with a heavy dose of salt, given: 1) AT&T is currently preoccupied with closing the DirecTV acquisition. 2) It implies AT&T would be paying a 46% premium to Vodafone's current London trading price, and valuing the company at ~$130B. 3) AT&T, which has a $179B market cap and $84B in debt, would be very hard-pressed to finance a ~$130B deal solely with cash.
- A 6-month prohibition on an AT&T bid for Vodafone ended in July. However, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson stated in March "the window may be closing" for his company to acquire European wireless assets, and is reportedly unhappy with Vodafone's wireline expansion efforts.
Aug. 20, 2014, 2:33 PM
- Brazilian paper O Estado de S. Paulo reports Vodafone (VOD -0.8%) is mulling an acquisition of TIM Participacoes (TSU -0.5%), Telecom Italia's (TI -0.1%) Brazilian mobile/wireline unit.
- The paper states Vodafone, hungry to expand after receiving its Verizon Wireless windfall, would prefer to enter Brazil by taking a majority stake in one of the country's 3 top mobile carriers - giants Telefonica and America Movil control the other two - rather than by participating in an upcoming 4G spectrum auction.
- TIM is estimated to have 26.9% of the Brazilian market, Telefonica's Vivo 28.7%, and America Movil's Claro 24.9%.
- TI's own M&A plans could stand in the way of a Vodafone offer: The Italian carrier is reportedly weighing a bid to acquire Brazilian wireline carrier GVT, with the goal of trumping an existing offer from Telefonica and merging GVT with TIM.
Jul. 25, 2014, 11:02 AM
- On an organic basis (backs out forex and M&A), Vodafone's (VOD +2.6%) service revenue fell 4.2% Y/Y in FQ1 to £9.45B ($16.01B), a slightly bigger decline than FQ4's 3.8%.
- European service revenue fell 7.9%, while all other markets grew 4.7%. However, the latter was down double-digits if forex is accounted for; weak Indian, Turkish, and South African currencies were responsible.
- Vodafone's European mobile sub base fell by 1.77M to 127.1M - 878K subs were lost in Italy, 366K in Germany, and 236K in Spain. 80K were added in the U.K. With sub losses, declining voice/text revenue, and termination fee rate cuts taking a toll, service revenue fell 16.1% in Italy, 15.3% in Spain, 4.9% in Germany, and 3.2% in the U.K.
- Mobile subs in all other markets grew by 6.37M to 303.7M (166.6M in India). 3.3M subs were added in India, and 3M by the African Vodacom unit. Service revenue grew 10.3% in India, and was flat in Vodacom markets (hurt by South African termination fee cuts). Europe is still 68% of service revenue.
- £1.87B was spent on capex (£600M related to Project Spring), leading free cash flow to total -£582M. Net debt grew by £400M to £14.1B ($23.9B).
- Press release (.pdf), earnings slides (.pdf)
Jul. 21, 2014, 2:13 PM
- Vodafone (VOD -0.8%) and Portugal Telecom (PT +4.3%) plan to "deploy and share" and fiber networks covering 900K Portuguese homes through a 25-year deal that begins in December.
- Vodafone, which has set an ambitious goal of offering mobile/wireline bundles throughout Europe (through a mixture of M&A, investments, and partnerships), notes the deal furthers its effort to provide fiber to 1.5M Portuguese homes by mid-2015. 1M+ homes are already covered.
- The company has previously said it's open to buying a Portuguese cable provider, as it continues battling with both PT and local cable leader Zon Multimedia.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone's Egyptian unit (55%-owned) says it plans to spend $1.3B over the next 3 years to strengthen its mobile network, and is still exploring the idea of offering wireline services. Last year, Vodafone said it would spend £1.5B ($2.5B) through FY16 on expanding 3G coverage in Asia-Pac and Africa, via Project Spring.
Jun. 25, 2014, 1:53 PM
- Reuters reports the EU is set to unconditionally approve Vodafone's (VOD +0.8%) $9.8B purchase of Spanish cable provider ONO. The EU previously set a July 2 deadline for its decision.
- Vodafone, which has 25% of a Spanish mobile market that has been seeing steady revenue declines, plans to use ONO to offer quadruple-play packages. The carrier bought German cable provider Kabel Deutschland for $14.2B last year as part of its effort to offer mobile/wireline bundles in big European markets.
- Shares are up moderately today, aided by an upgrade to Outperform from Macquarie.
Jun. 18, 2014, 2:19 AM
- After reporting yesterday that AT&T will be the exclusive provider in the U.S. for its new smartphone, Amazon (AMZN) is now in talks to determine who will be its provider in Europe.
- The company has spoken to O2 (TEF) and Vodafone (VOD) in the U.K. If it chooses the latter, it would extend the two's relationship, as Vodafone provides the data plans shipped with the Kindle and the company's e-readers.
- Amazon is set to reveal the smartphone rumored to feature a 3D display at an event in Seattle later today.
Jun. 16, 2014, 3:44 AM
- Vodafone (VOD) has announced it plans to buy Cobra Automotive Technologies for €145M ($197.5M).
- The acquisition will increase Vodafone's machine-to-machine capabilities, and provide a greater amount of services to automotive customers.
- The offer is still pending antitrust approvals, and is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2014.
Jun. 6, 2014, 5:24 AM
- Vodafone (VOD) says that phones on its network are tapped in some of the 29 countries where it operates. The company exposed that secret wires allow government agencies to listen to live conversations and record them on its global network.
- The company also states that customers have a right to privacy, but it still has to obey the laws of each country in which it operates. "Refusal to comply with a country's laws is not an option," says Vodafone.
VOD vs. ETF Alternatives
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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