Monday, 28 September 2015

Guardian Media: Vodafone and Liberty Global end asset-swap talks

Info thanks to Guardian Media:

Vodafone and Liberty Global, the US owner of Virgin Media, have ended talks about a possible exchange of assets, the UK mobile phone operator said.

The companies, long rumoured as potential merger candidates, announced in June that they were in discussions about swapping some operations.

Analysts said at the time that a deal could result in either Virgin Media or Vodafone’s UK mobile network changing hands.

This month, John Malone, Liberty’s chairman, said the two sides were struggling to find common ground about what form a deal might take.

In a statement on Monday, Vodafone said: “On 5 June 2015, Vodafone confirmed that it was in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies. Vodafone [on Monday] announces that discussions with Liberty Global have terminated.”

Vodafone and Liberty have overlapping businesses in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

Malone had said a deal involving those countries could be attractive for Liberty, the world’s biggest cable company.

He said Liberty had no interest in some other Vodafone operations such as those in India and South Africa.

Vodafone denied that the talks included the option of a merger but analysts said the UK firm could have raised £30bn by selling its operations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific to make a merger with Liberty possible.

Mobile phone operators and other communications companies are jostling for position as the once distinct worlds of telephones, television and broadband are pulled together by technological advances.

Vodafone bought Spanish cable operator Ono last year for £6bn to offer bundles of services to customers in Spain. BT is re-entering the UK mobile phone market after agreeing to buy EE and has spent almost £1bn for live Premier League broadcasting rights over three years to compete with Sky.

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited.