Beal's New Gig: Integrating Vodafone & Tata?
There may be an even bigger strategic job waiting for Matt Beal when he joins Vodafone's CTO group if, as reports suggest, the UK-based operator is to acquire all of Tata Group's telecom assets.
According to several recent reports, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is looking to acquire all of India-based Tata Group's telecom assets, including Tata Communications Ltd. (NYSE: TCL), its global fiber/subsea network and international Ethernet services provider, and Tata's mobile assets in India where Vodafone is already a major mobile services player.
The companies aren't commenting, but rumors of a Vodafone/Tata tie-up have been swirling for awhile now. They just happen to make more sense now that Vodafone has hired on CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) CTO Matt Beal as its new Group Technology Architecture Director, slated to begin on April 1st. (See Vodafone Steals CenturyLink's CTO and Vodafone to Revamp Top Tech Team.)
Upon confirmation of the appointment, which Light Reading broke last week, Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell noted that Beal's background in network transformations and experience in integrating acquisitions could be useful if the Vodafone Tata acquisition rumors prove true.
She wrote on the Light Reading message boards: "Given Beal's background, might he be coming onboard to integrate the C&W/Tata Comms networks - should the Vodafone acquisition of Tata pan out?"
It is looking increasingly likely that the acquisition will pan out, too. Vodafone's biggest goal this year is to bolster its fixed and mobile broadband networks, as well as improve its enterprise support and customer experience management systems. It also has the cash on hand for a buying spree given its soon-to-close divestiture of Verizon Wireless . And, as Light Reading India points out, the deal would greatly strengthen Vodafone's presence in India, where the government has recently loosened its M&A rules, making it the largest wireless operator in the country. (See Vodafone to Revamp Top Tech Team and TTSL, Tata Comm Buyouts Can Give Vodafone Big Data Leap.)
Tata, whose holdings also include automative and steel, could use an exit from its telecom business, which has been losing money for the parent company.
If a deal is in the works, it seems likely Beal was a factor in Vodafone's plan. He knows his way around an acquisition and is no stranger to Carrier Ethernet and integrating fixed and mobile networks either. A Vodafone tie up would have its fair share of challenges, including the fact that the Indian government owns 26% of Tata currently, but Beal might just be the man to help bring a Vodafone/Tata telecom combination together.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading