Europe’s leading operators weigh impact of Brexit - Mobile World Live

Europe’s leading operators weigh impact of Brexit

27 JUN 2016

Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica are analysing the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Reports vary about the potential impact of Brexit on Telefonica’s plans for an IPO of its global infrastructure unit Telxius, as well as a possible IPO or sale of its O2 UK unit.

The Spanish operator told Reuters it was sticking to its 2016 targets despite the UK’s decision. “Telefonica maintains its objectives”, it said in an email.

However, sources told Bloomberg that both Telxius and O2 transactions could be on hold because of market volatility. Telefonica was planning to announce the infrastructure unit’s IPO as soon as next week. The operator is weighing whether to delay the marketing of the IPO by one week, or whether to reduce the size of the stake offered. It might even delay the whole process until the end of the summer.

Having had the sale of Telefonica O2 to CK Hutchison blocked by EU regulators, Brexit could be another setback for disposal plans. Kepler Cheuvreux, a financial advisory firm, said the UK unit’s value could be reduced by 20 per cent. And finding a non-UK buyer for O2 or listing the unit could be more difficult because of uncertainty in the market and with regulators.

Meanwhile, Vodafone said it was too soon to say whether it would continue to be a UK domiciled company following the Brexit vote. In addition, it is a leading operator in the country.  Previous reports in the run-up to the vote said Vodafone was concerned about the vote’s economic impact, but also worried about any change to the status of non-UK staff working at its Newbury headquarters.

Orange, on the other hand, appears sanguine. It stated it will keep several offices in the UK, employing about 900 staff, despite the vote.  The company is not directly in the country’s consumer market since selling its stake in EE to BT, although it has retained a four per cent stake in the latter following the deal.

However Deutsche Telekom holds a larger stake (12 per cent) in BT, following the EE sale. And Tim Hottges, the German operator’s CEO, is a non-executive on the UK incumbent’s board.  But the German operator said it did not expect a fall in the value of its investment. The investment was “a strategic and correct decision”, it said.

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Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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