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Vodafone Group plc (VOD)

  • 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
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 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
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  • 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.
  • Feb. 19, 2014, 3:04 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD) will divide up 1.27B Verizon Communications (VZ) shares to its investors as part of the distribution it's making following the $130B sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.
    • Vodafone stockholders will receive 0.026 of a share in Verizon Communications for each Vodafone share they own.
    • The U.K. carrier's shares are due to be consolidated on Monday at the rate of 6 new shares for 11 existing shares after the Verizon transaction closes on Friday.
    • Based on closing stock prices and currency rates yesterday, for example, a Vodafone stockholder would receive £0.72 in Verizon shares and £0.30 in cash for each Vodafone share they hold. (PR)
  • Feb. 13, 2014, 4:05 PM
    • Two months after spending $1.6B to buy out its Indian minority investors, Vodafone (VOD +0.4%)  is spending $3B (not all of it due right away) to acquire Indian spectrum in the rural/building-friendly 900MHz. band. Top rival Bharti Airtel is spending a similar amount.
    • The spectrum can be used to offer 3G and 4G services, and covers the key cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao recently argued the relatively poor state of India's wireline telecom infrastructure will yield a larger mobile data opportunity.
    • The purchase comes shortly after reports emerged that Vodafone's talks with the Indian government to resolve a $2B tax dispute have broken down.
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  • Feb. 12, 2014, 4:06 AM
    • Grupo Corporativo ONO has confirmed that its board has approved a proposal for the Spanish cable operator to start the process for a €7B ($9.6B) IPO but that directors didn't discuss any buyout proposals.
    • ONO has reportedly rejected offers from Vodafone (VOD) and Liberty Global (LBTYA).
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  • Feb. 11, 2014, 1:41 PM
    • Spain's La Vanguardia reports local cable giant ONO has rejected buyout offers from Vodafone (VOD +0.5%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA +1.5%), and plans to pursue a 1H14 IPO.
    • Vodafone, hungry to expand its European wireline footprint, was reported over the weekend to have made a formal offer for ONO. Bloomberg later reported a bid would need to be in the €7B-€8B ($9.5B-$10.9B) range to win board approval.
    • Yesterday: Vodafone open to building conglomerate, has big M&A budget
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  • Feb. 10, 2014, 7:05 PM
    • "If other opportunities arise to create a bigger—I would say the Unilever of telecom—a big company that has fixed mobile and possibly entertainment and enterprise services, then of course we'll go after them," says Vodafone (VOD) CEO Vittorio Colao during a CNBC talk. He adds Vodafone "might be looking at a number of places in emerging markets and in mature markets and consolidation opportunities."
    • During a separate talk, Colao says Vodafone, flush with Verizon Wireless cash, might have $30B-$40B to spend on M&A in the coming years, assuming it maintains its 2:1 debt/EBITDA target ratio.
    • The remarks come as a fresh report emerges of Vodafone's interest in Spanish cable provider ONO (previous). Colao suggests Vodafone, which bought German cable provider Kabel Deutschland last year, is keen on building its wireline footprint in Europe, and on expanding its mobile reach in emerging markets.
    • Discussing India, Vodafone's biggest emerging market, Colao points out the country's relatively poor wireline infrastructure spells a larger opportunity for mobile data services.
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Company Description
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.