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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 14, 2013

Vodafone's $13.3B Informal Bid for Kabel Deutschland Signals Strategy Shift

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

British communications behemoth Vodafone (News - Alert) has confirmed that it is in talks with German cable operator Kabel Deutschland about a $13.3 billion takeover of the German cableco, which would set it up to compete more effectively with integrated incumbent Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert).

DT is beating Vodafone out on the mobile front in the German market—Europe’s largest economy—thanks to its quad-play proposition, but also has a 44-percent market share in high-speed broadband.

Kabel Deutschland is Germany’s largest cable operator and claims 8.5 million customers, with a market value that’s pegged at about $9.4 billion. But it’s worth a premium considering the automatic advantage that it would give Vodafone in terms of expanding its fixed-line proposition in the country—clearly a priority for the carrier. Last month Vodafone signed a deal with DT to resell DT’s fixed broadband to its more than 30 million German customers. The Kabel Deutschland deal would likely negate that arrangement but would give Vodafone its own footprint in the country. That’s a change in strategy for Vodafone, which typically resells fixed-line services throughout Europe.

“This is not just about enhancing Vodafone’s mobile business,” Ulrich Trabert, an analyst with the private bank Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt told the Times. “This is about expanding Vodafone’s German market depth in TV and Internet.”

The takeover rumors have been swirling since February. Vodafone, which owns 45 percent of Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless, told The New York Times that the discussions were at an early stage and “may not lead to an official bid.”

Vodafone may not be alone in making a run for Kabel, however. Analysts said that John C. Malone’s Liberty Global (News - Alert), which owns Germany’s second-largest cable company and just completed a $16 billion acquisition of the British cable operator Virgin Media, could appear as a rival suitor.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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