Apr. 17, 2014, 1:03 PM
- Netflix (NFLX +3.6%) is in talks with Vodafone (VOD +1.1%) about a deal that would give the giant international carrier's subs "free access to Netflix content for a period of time," Bloomberg reports.
- Vodafone has majority ownership of networks in 15 European countries, including three Netflix markets - the U.K., Ireland, and the Netherlands. The company already has deals with Spotify and Sky Sports that provide free content access to new U.K. 4G subs.
- The report comes as AT&T tries to get Netflix and other streaming service providers to sign up for its Sponsored Data program, which allows content providers to subsidize customer data usage.
- Netflix, boosted by a morning Pac Crest upgrade, is trading near its session highs.
Apr. 10, 2014, 3:34 AM
- Vodafone (VOD) has agreed to acquire an 11% stake in its Indian unit held by partner Piramal Enterprises for 89B rupees ($1.48B).
- The transaction is part of Vodafone's plan to obtain 100% control of the subsidiary for a total of 101.41B rupees. The U.K. company owns 84.5% of Vodafone India directly and indirectly.
- Vodafone also intends to purchase the holding of another minority investor, businessman Analjit Singh.
Apr. 7, 2014, 10:45 AM
- With all signs suggesting U.S. regulators remain opposed to a Sprint/T-Mobile USA merger in spite of Masayoshi Son's PR campaign, rumors have emerged SoftBank (SFTBF) will turn its sights on acquiring Vodafone (VOD +0.9%) if its efforts to fuse the #3 and #4 U.S. carriers are thwarted.
- It's worth noting Vodafone ($96B market cap) would be much harder for SoftBank ($87B) to digest than T-Mobile ($26B). If it was to try, SoftBank would doubtlessly make use of its 37% stake in soon-to-be-public Alibaba (could have a $50B+ pre-tax value).
- Sprint (S -2.6%) and T-Mobile (TMUS -1.5%) are seeing moderate declines.
Apr. 3, 2014, 3:25 AM
- Vodafone's (VOD) U.K. division intends to spend £1B ($1.66B) on networks and services this year, and create 1,400 jobs by opening 150 new stores. That would take Vodafone's total branded outlets in the country to over 500.
- The plan comes as Vodafone strengthens and expands its European operations following the sale of its 45% in Verizon Wireless for $130B. The strategy includes the acquisition of Spanish cable operator Ono for €7.2B ($10B).
Mar. 26, 2014, 6:14 PM
- Less than two weeks after sealing a €7B deal to buy Spanish cable giant Ono, Vodafone (VOD -1.4%) CEO Vittorio Colao says he's open to a deal in neighboring Portugal. "If smaller cable companies were available for sale we would look at them ... If they are not available for sale, we’ll build fiber in their areas and then we will see.”
- Vodafone already offers IPTV services in Portugal to go with mobile offerings. It competes against TV services from Portugal Telecom (PT -0.9%) and cable leader Zon Multimedia, and is planning to bolster its position by rolling out fiber-to-the-home services to 1.5M households. France's Altice SA owns a smaller Portuguese cable provider.
- Vodafone has made it clear it plans to use some of its Verizon Wireless cash to grow its European wireline footprint via M&A and internal investments.
Mar. 19, 2014, 11:26 AM
- In spite of stiff protests from the region's carriers, an EU parliamentary committee has voted 30-12 (with 14 abstentions) in favor of ending mobile roaming fees (for voice, data, and SMS) by Dec. 15, 2015 for users traveling between EU countries. An exception exists for instances of "anomalous or abusive usage of retail roaming services."
- The committee has also backed creating net neutrality rules prohibiting carriers from blocking or slowing specific Internet services. The vote comes after the FCC said it would draft new U.S. net neutrality rules following a court ruling shooting down older ones.
- The loss of intra-continental roaming revenue stands to further pressure the bottom lines of European carriers, who have already been struggling to cope with slumping voice/SMS activity.
- One silver lining: The EU's roaming efforts are part of a broader push to create a common European telecom market, something likely to spur further consolidation.
- Affected carriers: VOD, ORAN, TEF, TI, DTEGY, BT
Mar. 16, 2014, 8:45 PM
- Consolidation continues in Europe's fragmented telecom sector, with Vodafone (VOD) inking a deal to buy Spanish cable company Ono SA for just over €7B, reports the WSJ. The U.K. player will assume Ono's €3.34B in debt and pay the rest in cash to Ono's shareholders. The planned Ono IPO approved just last week will obviously be preempted.
- Vodafone has struggled competing with Spanish telecoms offering bundled packages of high-speed home Internet, pay-TV, and cell phone service, but the Ono purchase will give it a much-needed fixed line operation.
- From Friday: A Vodafone/Ono deal is near.
Mar. 14, 2014, 6:53 AM
- Vodafone (VOD) is close to an agreement to acquire Grupo Corporativo ONO for €7.2B ($10B) including debt, Reuters reports, adding that while Ono's shareholders yesterday approved an IPO for the Spanish cable operator, they were holding out for a deal with the U.K. carrier.
- The sides are negotiating the final terms and could even reach a preliminary agreement today.
Mar. 10, 2014, 12:02 PM
- As European 4G investments ramp, "the window may be closing" on acquiring continental wireless assets, AT&T (T -0.4%) CEO Randall Stephenson stated last week at a Morgan Stanley conference (transcript). At the same time, he argued "there are still other opportunities" in Europe, such as those tied to the development of "global" SIM cards that can work with any type of device worldwide.
- Those remarks were highlighted by a weekend FT column declaring Stephenson had "poured more cold water." on hopes of an AT&T bid for Vodafone (VOD -4.2%). The AT&T chief has already been reported to have told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a bid.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao states recently-acquired Kabel Deutschland will act as the "core" of a wireline business in Germany and possibly other countries. He adds Vodafone's wireline ops will expand to include security, Web hosting, and entertainment services (previous).
- Colao was cryptic when asked about Vodafone's reported efforts to acquire Spanish cable giant ONO. "We'll see what happens."
Mar. 10, 2014, 3:01 AM
- Grupo Corporativo ONO's owners are moving forward with plans for an IPO, the WSJ reports, and are due to meet with analysts and candidates for independent directors today and tomorrow.
- The WSJ's article contrasts with a Reuters report on Friday which said that Vodafone (VOD) has agreed to a deal to acquire the Spanish cable operator.
- ONO's shareholders are due to hold an annual meeting on Thursday, when they could approve the IPO, which would effectively end any takeover talks.
- There's no word on the value of the IPO, although ONO's investors would reportedly want above €7B in any M&A.
- Liberty Global (LBTYA) has also been eying ONO.
Mar. 7, 2014, 11:19 AM
- Sources tell Reuters (translation) Vodafone (VOD -2.8%) has raised its bid for Spanish cable giant ONO, and has reached a preliminary deal with ONO shareholders collectively possessing a controlling stake.
- No word on the specific offer price. Vodafone was previously reported to have made a rejected €7B ($9.6B) bid for ONO.
- One source states Vodafone plans to formally present its offer before ONO's board meets on March 13 to approve recently-announced plans to pursue an IPO.
- Vodafone is selling off on the report. A successful Vodafone bid for ONO, coming on the heels of its $14.2B Kabel Deutschland acquisition, could lower the odds AT&T (T +0.3%) will make an offer for the company once its 6-month waiting period ends. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has reportedly told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a deal.
Mar. 4, 2014, 10:34 AM
- Sky News reports Vodafone (VOD +0.8%) has restarted talks to acquire Spanish cable giant ONO, and that a deal could be worth €7B ($9.6B).
- However, the talks are said to be "at a tentative stage," with Vodafone pessimistic about its ability to get ONO shareholders to call off a planned IPO. Bloomberg reported last month an ONO bid would need to be in the €7B-€8B range to win board approval.
- Vodafone appears intent on using some of its Verizon Wireless cash to grow its European wireline reach. AT&T isn't pleased.
Feb. 26, 2014, 1:25 PM
- Media reports that Google (GOOG +0.5%) made an offer to buy WhatsApp are "simply untrue," says Android/Chrome chief Sundar Pichai. Fortune had reported Google offered $10B for the mobile messaging leader, and others suggested Google was even willing to top Facebook's (FB +0.7%) $19B offer.
- Pichai's remarks come shortly after Mark Zuckerberg met with top mobile carrier execs, including Vodafone (VOD -1.3%) CEO Vittorio Colao and Orange (ORAN -3.6%) CEO Stephane Richard, to address concerns carriers are being reduced to "dumb pipes" as services such as Facebook and WhatsApp proliferate, and in doing so eat into voice/SMS revenue.
- Zuck is looking to enlist carriers such as Vodafone and Orange in its Internet.org initiative to provide free access to basic Web services in emerging markets. Colao recently said offering free Facebook access to Vodafone subs "does not make any sense" for the carrier.
- Meanwhile, WhatsApp rival Telegram has rocketed to the top of App Store charts in many countries since the Facebook deal went down, and WhatsApp saw a weekend outage. Telegram claims to offer better security than alternatives, and also features a Snapchat-like self-delete option for message threads.
- Though no WhatsApp rivals come close to matching the service's 465M MAUs and network effect, Telegram's growth highlights how rivals can quickly gain a following by leveraging phone contact book listings to connect users.
Feb. 25, 2014, 1:56 PM
- Dow Jones reports AT&T (T -1%), long rumored to be weighing a bid for Vodafone (VOD -1.1%), isn't thrilled with Vodafone's efforts to grow its cable assets via M&A, and would prefer the company focus on mobile.
- Vodafone, which just closed the Verizon Wireless deal, has been eying European wireline carriers as part of an effort to offer an end-to-end suite of telecom services in EU markets.
- The company gobbled up German cable provider Kabel Deutschland last year for $14.2B, and reportedly made a failed bid this year for Spanish cable giant ONO. There have also been rumors Vodafone is open to a bid for U.K. satellite TV/broadband provider BSkyB.
- Last month, AT&T gave up the opportunity to bid on Vodafone for six months, but is still reportedly open to making an offer afterwards.
- Vodafone shares have ticked lower on the report.
Feb. 24, 2014, 9:11 AM
Feb. 21, 2014, 11:20 AM
- Verizon (VZ -0.3%) has officially completed its $130B purchase of Vodafone's (VOD +0.5%) 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. As previously announced, Verizon is issuing 1.27B shares to Vodafone (current value of $61B), and paying for the rest of the deal in cash.
- Vodafone says it will return $23.9B of the cash to shareholders in addition to distributing the Verizon shares (previous), leading to a total return of $85B. All signs suggest the carrier will use a chunk of the remaining post-tax windfall to go acquisition-hunting.
- Verizon reiterates the deal will immediately be accretive to EPS by 10%. Over the long haul, it's expected to give Verizon more flexibility to integrate its wireline and mobile services, and to cut overhead by combining redundant divisions.
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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