May 9, 2018

Vodafone burnishes credentials as European telecoms champion

It is Vodafone's biggest takeover since the record-breaking £112bn acquisition of Mannesmann in 2000 that first took the British company into Germany, and the most significant in European telecoms since Spain's Telefónica pounced on the UK's O2 in 2005. The combination creates a genuine competitor to Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest telecoms company, in its German backyard and delivers on the long-held ambition of European investors and regulators to create a regional champion capable of going toe-to-toe with global giants such as China Mobile, Verizon and AT&T in the race to invest in 5G. "Frankly, the EU has always been talking about creating cross-country European champions," Mr Colao said after signing the deal. While Mr Fries played down talk of an imminent deal, saying "There's no impending transaction, no drama on M&A," he hinted that the company could pounce once the Vodafone cash was secured. The inclusion of the eastern European assets in the Vodafone-Liberty deal means the European Commission is likely to control the process which, according to German competition lawyers, vastly increases the chances of it being cleared. In 2008 it bought the railway company Deutsche Bahn out of landline telecoms joint venture Arcor, as Vodafone started to move away from its mobile roots.

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