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UPD Vodafone and Virgin Media UK Parent – Liberty Global – Confirm Talks

Friday, June 5th, 2015 (11:07 am) - Score 856

British mobile giant Vodafone confirms that they’ve held talks with global cable operator Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the United Kingdom, about a “possible” and mutually beneficial “exchange” of some European businesses. But the idea of a huge £100bn+ mega merger appears to be off the table.

The news follows a number of reports at the end of last month, which indicated that some of Vodafone’s biggest shareholders, each with stakes worth billions of pounds, were putting pressure on the operator to enter into a massive merger deal with Liberty Global (here).

Vodafone would benefit by gaining access to a massive fixed line cable network, which would help it to compete with BT in the UK (BT are currently buying EE and this is a big threat to Voda), while Liberty would have its own mobile platform. At the time Liberty’s owner, US billionaire John Malone, confirmed that he might be interested in a merger with Vodafone’s EU businesses (e.g. UK, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands) and even suggested they would be a “great fit“.

But Vodafone has now confirmed that it is “not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies“, although they are in the “early stages” of discussing a “possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies“.

Vodafone’s Official Statement

Vodafone Group Plc (“Vodafone”) notes the recent media speculation regarding a potential transaction between Vodafone and Liberty Global Plc (“Liberty Global”). Vodafone confirms that it is in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies.

There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor is there certainty with respect to which assets will ultimately be involved.

Vodafone is not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies.”

However an asset swap on this scale would be very complicated and indeed few would be happy to see Vodafone’s UK branch being sold off, thus some sort of halfway house may be needed. In any case we imagine that the discussions will drag on for awhile and it remains to be seen whether anything tangible will result, although this is at least much more concrete information than we’ve seen in the past.

UPDATE 12:59pm

Added the official statement from Vodafone above.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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