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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/18/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Agreement meant to expand Vodafone's presence in Europe

In a deal aimed at expanding its interests in Europe, Vodafone has agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Ono for $10 billion in U.S. dollars. Private equity-owned, Ono offers cable TV and internet services and has 1.9 million customers in Spain. Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao said the deal was "an attractive value creation opportunity."

Europe's communications market is consolidating as Vodafone and rivals such as billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global vie for assets.

Europe's communications market is consolidating as Vodafone and rivals such as billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global vie for assets.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/18/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Vodafone, Ono, Spain, European saturation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The deal arrives six months after Vodafone bought a controlling stake in German cable operator Kabel. Vodafone now says it plans to spend up to 25 billion of the 84 billion it generated from the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless on investment in its core European networks.

Ono's private equity owners, before the Vodafone deal, had been planning to float the company on the Madrid stock exchange.

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The enlarged business would help to "drive innovation in the Spanish telecommunications industry," Jose Maria Castellano Rios, chairman of Ono's board of directors, said.

The deal puts Vodafone in a better position to compete with rivals such as Telefonica and Orange. "It follows the strategy they are already pursuing in Germany and in Europe in general, which is to expand their overall offer to their clients by adding cable service to their wireless services," Peregrine & Black analyst Markus Huber says.

Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at online broker Interactive Investor, agreed the purchase was a "shrewd strategic move" for Vodafone, noting that the deal would provide it with the fixed-line operation it currently lacked in Spain.

Buying Germany's Kabel Deutschland last year, Vodafone is adding both internet and television services across Europe as it looks for ways to compensate for falling cellular revenue.

The deal might spur more takeovers as rivals tried to match Vodafone's size. "It's the start of a whole new set of merger and acquisition stories, pan-European," Robin Bienenstock of Sanford C. Bernstein said. "You start to see cross-border stuff."

Vodafone shares rose as much as 1.82 percent by 1.30pm in London. The stock has lost one percent in the past year.

Private equity firms Providence Equity Partners, CCMP Capital Advisors, Quadrangle Capital Partners and Thomas H Lee Partners are all Ono shareholders. The four together hold about 54.4 percent of the Spanish operator.

Europe's communications market is consolidating as Vodafone and rivals such as billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global vie for assets.

AT&T remains interested in buying Vodafone even after giving up the option to bid for the carrier for six months, sources said in January.

AT&T has expressed interest in Europe's move into fourth-generation wireless networks, which are a few years behind services in the U.S. and present the opportunity for carriers to charge a premium.

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