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Patience you must have, says Voda: Biz in talks with Liberty Global for grabbing Euro assets

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Two ISPs mull tie-up

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

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Brit-based comms colossus Vodafone is mulling snapping up wedges of European networks owned by American telecoms giant Liberty Global.

You may recall Voda and Liberty from such films as: Dial M for Merger, and The Erotic Adventures of Two Communications Goliaths. There have been rumors floating around since 2015 that the two multinationals are considering some sort of serious tie-up, however, the discussions have mostly led nowhere concrete.

Vodafone is the world’s second-largest mobile carrier in terms of subscriber numbers, and is headquartered in London, UK. It provides internet services in Blighty and the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Liberty is the Denver-based US cable king that owns broadband provider Virgin Media in the UK as well as ISPs in about a dozen other nations in Europe, from Belgium and Hungary to Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland.

The pair have a $3.7bn joint venture in the Netherlands, and it was speculated at one point that other parts of Liberty's Euro operations – such as its German wing – could be swapped for Voda's UK network.

Today, it was reported Vodafone and Liberty are back in talks again, possibly with Voda splashing roughly €14bn or more to buy large chunks of Liberty's European networks.

In a statement on late on Friday, Vodafone said some kind of deal is being hashed out, although nothing is set in stone:

Vodafone confirms that it is in early stage discussions with Liberty Global regarding the potential acquisition of certain overlapping continental European assets owned by Liberty Global.

There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms, timing or form of any transaction.

Vodafone is not in discussion with Liberty Global regarding a combination of both companies.

Those overlapping assets are in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania, meaning Voda is angling to buy Liberty's networks in those countries, it appears.

Liberty declined to comment. Both corporations' stock rose a few per cent on the news. ®

PS: In other news, Oregon and California cableco Wave has formally complained to US watchdog the FCC that it was strong-armed into paying "a punitive ransom totaling nearly $3.5 million" to rival Comcast to carry Comcast-owned regional TV sports.

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