Eurobites: Vodafone Chews Over Liberty Merger

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice confirms offer for Portugal Telecom; Orange tests three-carrier aggregation in Poland; AlcaLu's 400G job in Algeria.

  • Last week all the telecom talk in the UK was of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s interest in EE and Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2 UK): Now Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has taken center stage. According to a Reuters report, the UK-based mobile giant is seriously sizing up Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) as a possible acquisition target or merger partner, as it looks for ways to further expand its fixed line empire via cable operator acquisitions. The possibility that Vodafone might view Liberty Global, which has cable network operations in a dozen European countries, as a potential takeover target has been doing the rounds for a few months. Vodafone also appears to be looking at other options to further strengthen its hand in the UK market, as the Reuters report also notes speculation that it is sizing up the acquisition of TalkTalk , the UK broadband and pay-TV provider. Separately, the Daily Telegraph reports that Vodafone is "poised" to take over Blinkbox, the loss-making movie streaming service that troubled retailing behemoth Tesco is keen to offload as it attempts to focus on its faltering core groceries business. (See Eurobites: Vodafone on M&A Alert, Why BT + EE Makes More Sense and Eurobites: Vodafone Unveils UK Quad-Play Plans.)

  • Altice, which owns French cable operator Numericable-SFR , among other things, has confirmed that it has entered exclusive talks to acquire Portugal Telecom from Brazil's Oi, with a binding offer of €7.4 billion (US$9.2 billion). Altice is having a busy year: Only last week it completed its purchase of Vivendi 's mobile subsidiary, SFR . (See Altice in Exclusive Talks to Buy Portugal Telecom, Eurobites: Altice Eyes Portugal Telecom Bid and Eurobites: Numericable Wins SFR M&A Tussle.)

  • Orange Polska has successfully tested three-carrier aggregation, achieving downlink mobile broadband speeds of up to 296 Mbit/s, using technology from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. The operator tested two scenarios: combining a 10MHz carrier in the 800MHz band with a 10MHz carrier in the 1.8GHz band and a 20MHz band in the 2.6GHz band; and combining a 10MHz carrier in the 1.8GHz band with a 10MHz carrier in the 2.6GHz band and a 20MHz band in the 2.6GHz band. Both scenarios achieved the top-line speed. The operator believes it is now ready to deploy such functionality on its commercial network, but is awaiting the outcome of the recent 4G spectrum auction by Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) before it makes deployment plans.

  • Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has completed what it says is Africa's first 400G backbone network, for Ooredoo Algeria. The network, which connects Algeria's main cities of Algiers, Constantine and Oran, will be based on Alcatel-Lucent’s DWDM technology using the 1830 Photonic Service Switch platform. (See AlcaLu, Ooredoo Do 400G.)

  • Gemalto 's mobile money technology is powering the rollout of Norway's first NFC payment service, Valyou, by operator Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) and two financial service providers, DNB and SpareBank 1. Gemalto has brought its Allynis Trusted Service Hub to the party. (See Gemalto Lands Role in Norway's NFC Payments Setup.)

  • Still in Norway, Telia Company 's planned acquisition of Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO)'s Norwegian unit has hit a regulatory roadblock, with the Norwegian Competition Authority issuing a statement of objection to the proposed deal. Tele2 decided to sell its Norwegian subsidiary earlier this year after failing to secure the spectrum it felt it needed to be a viable competitor in that market.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has introduced "My SME Office," a unified communications offering that reroutes calls made to a business's office landline to the smartphones or laptops of traveling staff. (See Swisscom Targets SMEs With Fixed/Mobile Service.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • [email protected] 12/1/2014 | 10:47:09 AM
    How big a risk would VOD + Liberty be? I can see the potential of combining Vodafone with Liberty's Eurpean assets but to what etent might this be a massive (even too big?) financial and operational risk?


    Investors seem a bit concerned -- Vodfone stock is down 3.2% to 226 pence on the London Stock Exchange today.
    Gabriel Brown 12/1/2014 | 2:23:47 PM
    Re: How big a risk would VOD + Liberty be? The idea has been around for so long that it is basically a price issue. 

    I imagine investors won't be too pleased if Vodafone, which has consistently generated oodles of cash, loads up on debt and halts the dividend. Perhaps the argument is that credit is cheap, so now's the time to make a big strategic move?
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