Vodafone Idea has moved to deny a media report that claimed it could soon be acquired by a big US telecoms player, naming Verizon, Amazon and Starlink as likely candidates.

Mary Lennighan

September 18, 2023

3 Min Read
Vodafone Idea dismisses major US takeover bid

Vodafone Idea has moved to deny a media report that claimed it could soon be acquired by a big US telecoms player, naming Verizon, Amazon and Starlink as likely candidates.

The denial can hardly come as a surprise – the report in question is thin and speculative at best – but naturally industry watchers are picking the story apart to ascertain whether it’s really a case of smoke but no fire, or whether there’s a smouldering ember in there somewhere.

In a brief stock market filing on Monday, Vodafone Idea highlighted a news item with the headline ‘Vodafone Idea to be acquired by a US telecom giant soon? Verizon, Amazon, or Starlink, in the race’ – we presume it’s this one from PGurus – that was doing the rounds in the press and on social media.

“We wish to submit that the said News Item is incorrect. The Company is not in any such discussion with any of the named parties,” the filing stated.

With Vodafone Idea still in a fairly precarious state financially, the idea of a takeover is far from out of the question. Thus we run the risk of over-analysing the telco’s choice of words and wondering whether there could be other companies in the frame, just not the three it specifically mentions. But at this stage there’s no evidence that that could be the case.

Equally, the PGurus story could hardly be described as evidence-based. The news outlet cited unnamed “market experts” as predicting that a big US telecoms company will take over Vodafone Idea “soon.” Its experts have apparently analysed discussions between Indian and US leaders at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, and as a result have added Starlink to the list of companies interested in the Vodafone Idea.

However, Verizon seems to be the most likely buyer, according to these experts, with talk of the US telco first shelling out US$4 billion for Vodafone Idea shares from Birla Group, Vodafone and the Indian government, and ultimately raising its investment in the troubled telco to around $10 billion.

But it’s not at all clear from where it got this information. Further, it’s worth pointing out that in reporting the interest of Verizon and Amazon in Vodafone Idea, the news outlet cites a report from Reuters…published more than a year ago.

PGurus appears to cite Vodafone Idea’s burgeoning share price as proof that a deal could now be on the cards. The operator’s stock price is indeed growing, its upward trajectory having steepened from late August; it rose to almost 12 rupees, or around 14 US cents, following the publication of the story, although has since dropped back a bit after Vodafone Idea’s denial.

But as the Economic Times points out, the telco’s share price jumped shortly after it reported that Vodafone Idea is close to tying up its long-delayed equity funding and has term sheets from several potential investors.

As much as we might like the idea of a big name US telecoms or tech player swooping in for Vodafone Idea, we’re more likely to see Vodafone Idea pushing on with its recovery plan.

 

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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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