What's going on?
British telecoms giant Vodafone – the world’s second-largest mobile operator – moved one step closer on Tuesday to calling part of US rival Liberty Global its own.
What does this mean?
Last year, Vodafone struck a $22 billion deal with Liberty Global to buy its cable television businesses in Germany and Eastern Europe. The proposed acquisition was met with heightened scrutiny from rivals and regulators, particularly in Germany: the new combination would mean one less operator in the playing field, potentially making the market less competitive and leading to unfairly high prices for consumers. In a move to appease regulators and get the deal over the line, Vodafone agreed on Tuesday to sell its German cable broadband networks to smaller river Telefónica Deutschland (which currently has a significantly smaller share of the German broadband market).
It seems changes are abundant in European telecoms: French operator Iliad is slimming down too in order to raise cash and fill its coffers. On Tuesday, Iliad announced plans to sell its mobile towers in Italy and France to rival Cellnex for $3 billion.
Why should I care?
For markets: Deutsche telecoms heat up.
The Vodafone-Liberty tie-up, if approved, would be the largest deal in European telecoms in more than a decade – which may be why European regulators are so keen to get it right (tweet this). And Germany’s current market leader – former state-owned operator Deutsche Telekom – will likely want to see the deal fold to keep its head honcho status (without having to defend its position against a bigger competitor). With one less rival and greater market share, Vodafone could give its investors higher sales and profits – and Deutsche Telekom a run for its money.
Zooming out: Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
Failed marriages are plentiful: Australian investment manager Long-Term Asset Partners gave up on its $2 billion offer for fellow Aussie agribusiness GrainCorp on Monday. And British security provider G4S’s stock fell on Tuesday after Canadian rival GardaWorld dropped its proposed takeover bid.