Vodafone takeover chatter resurfaces

<p>Vodafone’s shares received a boost this week, just as the company readies to complete the sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to joint […]</p>

Vodafone’s shares received a boost this week, just as the company readies to complete the sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to joint venture partner Verizon Communications. The market is talking again.

Amidst the on-goings at Vodafone, chatter that the soon-to-be-smaller telecoms operator could, before long, end up on the receiving end of a takeover bid has been reignited.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that AT&T had an eye on Vodafone

That talk was arguably not without basis. After all, Randall Stephenson – AT&T’s CEO – has long since publicly declared an interest in Europe and reaching for Vodafone would certainly accomplish that goal. And, in terms of financial firepower, AT&T can indeed muster enough for a smaller Vodafone, which will soon be boasting a revamped balance sheet.

While the rumour was subsequently denied by AT&T, it’s worth highlighting that nothing precludes the US-based telecoms operator from making a move on its UK-based counterpart, should it wish to do so in the future.

Meanwhile, Vodafone made headlines as a potential suitor itself

Just last week, Spanish cable operator Ono was cited as having received a takeover approach from Vodafone (subsequent news suggests that Ono rebuffed the approach in favour of an IPO). Again, this carries some strategic rationale.

For starters, such a move by Vodafone, which is faced with fierce competition, would be in-line with the company’s recent efforts to expand its cable assets in a bid to remain competitive. Not to mention that gaining scale via acquisitions should help ward off attention from would-be suitors.

So, whether Vodafone remains acquirer or ends up target (or indeed both) remains to be seen

But it seems clear that its shares are likely to enjoy recurring support, partly because – until such a time as when it builds sufficient scale – talk of the company being a potential target is unlikely to disappear.

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