Vodafone ends Liberty Global talks without reaching a deal

After months of discussions Vodafone and Liberty Global have gone their separate ways without reaching a deal over a potential exchange of assets.

Vodafone revealed the two companies were in talks back at the start of the summer, stating it was “…in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies.” Today’s statement was very short, merely stating “Vodafone today announces that discussions with Liberty Global have terminated.” The assumption is that is there had been any agreement it would have been revealed, so that’s that.

Some kind of deal between the two companies had been anticipated ever since Vodafone sold its stake in Verizon Wireless. Vodafone had stated at the time it was refocusing on Europe and Liberty Global has a strong presence in many European countries, including Virgin Media in the UK. There are reports that Virgin might have been the sticking point in negotiations.

Vodafone is under pressure in the UK thanks mainly to BT’s move for EE, which would make it the number one multiplay operator by a long way. Vodafone is strong in mobile, but well behind BT and Virgin when it comes to fixed infrastructure. Some kind of deal for Virgin would have gone a long way towards solving that.

The failure of this negotiation leaves Vodafone with a sizable war chest but not many acquisition opportunities in the UK. The only other significant acquisition it could make to improve its multiplay offering would by Sky, but it’s hard to imagine Sky’s owners being any more willing to sell than Liberty Global had been.

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