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Eurobites: Vodafone on M&A Alert

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: HBO deploys StreamCast platform; Romania turns magenta; Norway cuts termination rates.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has used an investor conference in New York to confirm that it is still very much on the M&A trail in Europe, with a bid for Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)'s European operations possibly forming part of the picture, reports the Daily Telegraph. Buying Liberty Global would hand control of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) to Vodafone, which would give the mobile giant a way in to the British TV and broadband markets. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), this would also equip Vodafone with extra firepower to cope with an expected launch of discounted mobile services from BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) later this year. Vodafone has been linked to multiple potential M&A deals since it offloaded its stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion. (See Verizon Gets Its Freedom From Vodafone .)

  • HBO Europe, which operates in 14 territories in eastern and central Europe and in the Netherlands, is to deploy ActiveVideo 's StreamCast platform to integrate HBO GO with existing pay-TV set-top boxes. This is a significant move because it will allow HBO to compete better against OTT rival Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) in Europe. (See ActiveVideo Joins Cable's RDK Club, IBC 2014: New Video Tech on Tap From Arris, Cisco, Pace & More and Eurobites: Netflix Spreads Its Wings.)

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) subsidiaries Romtelecom S.A. and Cosmote Romania are to be rebranded together as Telekom Romania, coming under the German giant's distinctive magenta umbrella. According to DT, the two companies are already "operationally integrated," but henceforth they will be able to deliver a "unified customer experience from a single point of contact."

  • Norway is not a member of the European Union, but it is following the EU's example by slashing mobile termination rates as from April 2015, reports Reuters. Norwegian operators -- including Telenor, Tele2 and TeliaSonera -- will face a rate cap of 0.083 Norwegian kroner per minute, compared to the current NOK 0.16 maximum.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • Gabriel Brown 9/12/2014 | 9:48:23 AM
    Re: Vodafone and Liberty? It's an obvious move. I know competitors fear the combination. Although in practice, there would be a lot to integrate, and some overlap to manage.

    I asked my Heavy Reading colleague Alan Breznick, who covers cable, about this a while ago (the rumor has been around for a long time). He said Liberty is more of a buyer than a seller of assets.
    [email protected] 9/12/2014 | 8:48:59 AM
    Vodafone and Liberty? Given Liberty's valuation, a bid for its European business would likely set Vodafone back the best part of $40 billion.... that is a "big ask" as they say in sports circles...
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