Vodafone linked with Altice Portuguese cable assets

Following the recent European Commission approval of the Portugal Telecom acquisition by French telco giant Altice, speculation is growing regarding the likely buyers of Altice’s other Portuguese assets, the disposal of which was a prerequisite of the approval.

A report by the FT reckons Vodafone is one of the companies considering bidding for consumer fixed-line player Cabovisão. It also says a few other unnamed players are sniffing around both Cabovisão and ONI – Altice’s business fixed-line asset in Portugal that it is also obliged to divest. Bloomberg also got corroboration of the rumour.

While Vodafone declined to comment to either publication, it is broadly acknowledged that the UK operator is interested in expanding its Portuguese interests. Vodafone is currently the second largest mobile operator in Portugal with a 31% subscriber share according to Ovum’s WCIS service, although this is in historical decline. PT has a 47% share, which is up year-on-year. Vodafone may consider the addition of significant fixed assets to its Portuguese offering a good way of reversing that trend.

The EC announced its approval of the acquisition of PT by Altice with the condition that it divest Cabovisão and ONI, which was apparently volunteered by Altice. “Telecoms play an essential role in our digital society,” said EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager. “My wish is to ensure that the merger will not lead to higher prices and less competition for Portuguese consumers. The commitments offered by the parties address this concern.”

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