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Iliad bid for Vodafone Italia confirmed and rejected

UK telco has confirmed French telecoms group Iliad offered to buy its Italian operation and that the offer was rejected.

When we first reported on the matter earlier this week it was still at the unconfirmed rumour stage. Subsequent enquiries to Iliad yielded only a steer towards a paywalled Bloomberg article, that they didn’t even link to (so we won’t either), featuring a quote from its CEO confirming a bid had been made but nothing more. That’s a funny way of going about communicating such an important announcement, if you ask us, but what can you do?

The precedent for shifty communications via paywalled media having been established, the FT was leaked that the bid amounted to over €11 billion. The article also featured a photo of Iliad CEO Xavier Niel sporting a rather fetching ‘Bond villain’ look, complete with black poloneck and proto-mullet. He might want to try stroking a fat, fluffy cat next time, however, because Vodafone remained unmoved and rejected the bid.

Vodafone Group Plc confirms it recently received a highly preliminary, non-binding indication of interest from Iliad S.A. and Apax Partners LLP to acquire 100% of Vodafone Italy,” said the curt announcement, cruelly snubbing paywalled media for once. “Vodafone confirms it has rejected the Preliminary Indication of Interest, as it is not in the best interests of shareholders.

“The Board and management of Vodafone remain focused on delivering shareholder value through a combination of its organic growth strategy over the medium-term and ongoing portfolio optimisation. Vodafone continues to pragmatically pursue several value accretive in-market consolidation opportunities to deliver sustainable market structures in its major European markets, including Italy.”

Careful what you wish for, eh? What a load of corporate-speak gibberish. If Niel had a moustache he would presumably be twirling it now, to assist the plotting of his next move. The rejection of the unsolicited bid was to be expected but everyone has their price. The level at which Vodafone shareholders will start licking their lips at the prospect of a juicy payoff is anyone’s guess but Niel has presumably been emboldened by Cevian’s cage rattling, so this is unlikely to be the end of the matter.


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