The French and Italian mobile markets could both be on the verge of significant consolidation, according to reports from news agency Reuters. In France incumbent telco Orange has set two investment banks to investigate the potential takeover of rival Bouygues, while talks have resumed between Hutchison and Vimpelcom, which own 3 Italia and Wind respectively, about a potential merger. In both instances Reuteurs cited unnamed sources close to the situation.
French multi-play operator Bouygues has announced plans to cut more than 1,500 jobs, after CEO Olivier Roussat told a press briefing that consolidation-focused discussions being held with incumbent Orange and fast-growing newcomer Iliad had stalled.
The Spanish telecoms market continues to be a hotbed of consolidation, as European private equity firm Cinven on Monday announced plans to acquire a fibre network running through Spain and Latin America, from Spanish natural gas utility, Gas Natural Fenosa, for €510m.
A widely expected deal that will see US operator Sprint acquire its competitor T-Mobile USA is nearing completion, according to a number of reports citing inside sources. News agency Bloomberg said that an agreement on the price, capital structure and termination fee is close and that the deal would value T-Mobile at $40/share, or roughly $31bn.
The South African mobile operator subsidiary of UK-headquartered Vodafone has announced an agreement to acquire the market’s second largest fixed communications provider, Neotel, in a cash deal worth ZAR7.0bn ($673m). Negotiations between Vodacom and Neotel were announced in September last year, when Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub pledged to pump significant investment into the merged entity should talks prove fruitful.
US carrier AT&T has announced plans to acquire US and Latin American pay TV player DirecTV in a deal valued at $48.5bn. The deal will create a service provider with an offering across mobile, broadband and video that is unprecedented in the market, AT&T said. The transaction, which also involves AT&T assuming $18.6bn in debt, should take a year to complete, the telco said.
French incumbent telco Orange has announced that it is to sell its 53 per cent stake in Orange Uganda to Africell, an aspiring pan-regional operator that currently provides services in the DRC, Gambia and Sierra Leone. The deal awaits approval from the relevant authorities, Orange said.
Carphone Warehouse, which earlier this week announced plans to merge with UK high street consumer electronics retailer Dixons, has announced that it is in discussions to sell Omer Telecom, the holding company which owns Virgin Mobile France, to French cable player Numericable. In April this year Numericable’s parent Altice struck a deal to acquire French mobile operator SFR, which it intends to merge with Numericable.
German incumbent Deutsche Telekom is demanding a $1bn break-up fee be made part of any attempted takeover of its US operation T-Mobile by Sprint in order to approve the deal, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The payment, from Sprint to Deutsche Telekom, would be required should an agreed deal be derailed; perhaps blocked by regulatory or competition authorities.
Swedish network equipment provider Ericsson has completed its acquisition of UK media services provider Red Bee Media, following approval of the deal from the UK Competition Commission on March 27th this year. The deal sees 1,500 Red Bee staff absorbed by Ericsson and the UK established as a “major global media hub” for Ericsson, the company said.
Spanish media group Prisa has accepted incumbent operator Telefónica’s €725m bid for its 56 per cent stake in pay TV platform Canal+’s holding company Distribuidora de Televisión Digital (DTS). The deal gives DTS a market value of €1.3bn (US$1.8bn) and, if approved by regulators, will give Telefónica a controlling stake of 78 per cent, leaving Italy’s Mediaset with a 22 per cent holding.
Danish incumbent operator TDC has struck a deal with Finnish player DNA that will see DNA acquire TDC’s Finnish operations for €154m. The deal covers both TDC Finland and TDC Hosting—which provide communications and IT solutions to public and private enterprises and wholesale services—and their associated customers. TDC and DNA will co-operate on enterprise and international wholesale services in Finland after the deal’s conclusion.
Regional US operator Cincinnati Bell has announced that it is to close its cellular business, selling its spectrum licences to Verizon Wireless for $194m. The firm, which reported a wireless subscriber base of 340,000 at the end of 2013, down from 398,000 at the close of 2012, saw full year 2013 wireless revenues drop by 17 per cent to $202m.
The CEO of Telekom Austria, Hannes Ametsreiter, has told Telecoms.com that he expects to see increased investment in the European telecom sector and that some European telcos might see their headquarters shift outside of the region as a result. Telekom Austria is itself part owned by Mexican billionaire and America Movil CEO Carlos Slim, who is reportedly keen to take full ownership of the Austrian incumbent.
Norwegian operator Telenor is moving to consolidate its position in the Swedish broadband and television services sector with the acquisition of Tele2 Sweden’s fiber and cable business for SEK775m ($121.4m). Tele2 has some 370,000 households connected with fiber and cable, including 125,000 fixed broadband customers, 75,000 digital TV customers and 220,000 cable TV customers.
Spain’s Telefónica has confirmed that it is in discussions with Czech investment group PPF surrounding the sale of its Czech operation O2. In a stock market announcement following speculation in the financial press, Telefónica said that it is “exploring strategic options in relation to its stake in Telefónica Czech Republic, including conversations with investor group PPF, with nothing certain whether an agreement will be reached, or final terms and conditions.”
The GSMA has issued a fresh call for policy overhaul in the European mobile sector in a bid to bring the region up to speed with the world’s leading markets. Spectrum harmonisation, the removal of barriers to consolidation and freedom from close regulator control on pricing are essential to the sector’s improvement, the group said.
On September 2, 2013, Vodafone and Verizon announced that they had reached an agreement for Vodafone to sell its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless back to Verizon for $130bn. Ovum believes that the deal is good for both parties, but that the decision to return 65 per cent of the proceeds from the sale back to shareholders is short-sighted. It may make Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao popular, but we don’t believe that he will have enough left to future proof the business.
US carrier Verizon Communications has confirmed that it is to acquire Vodafone’s US holdings, including the UK operator’s 45 per cent of Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, consisting primarily of cash and stock. The firm said that the deal had unanimous approval from both boards and will likely close in the first quarter of next year.
Vodafone put a price on the sale of its 45 per cent share in Verizon Wireless to Verizon in another short statement on Sunday, sizing the deal at $130bn (£83.4bn) in cash and common Verizon stock. While the firm described the talks as “advanced”, and despite reports on Sunday and Monday that the deal is all but done, a formal announcement has yet to be made.