Big Guns Eye HanseNet

3:05 PM -- When the going gets tough, the cash rich start snapping up assets at knockdown prices. Or something like that...

Reports hitting the wires today suggest that Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) are lining up to bid for German competitive operator HanseNet Telekommunikation GmbH , which has about 2.3 million fixed broadband customers and an IPTV service up and running. (See DT Rival Launches IPTV .)

Check out this Bloomberg story for more details, including the valuation of €1.1 billion (US$1.46 billion).

The big question is -- if both companies, and others, bid, and Telefónica wins, won't the others cry foul? After all, the Spanish incumbent is a key shareholder in Hansenet's current parent company, Telecom Italia (TIM) . (See Telefónica Takes Stake in Telecom Italia.)

This could get very interesting...

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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