Talks between Vodafone Group and Liberty Global over a possible exchange of business assets in Europe collapsed after months of negotiations.
The breakdown has for now ended hopes for the creation of a dominant pan European mobile and fixed line player, which has been long mooted, or indeed a tie-up to enable both groups to boost their respective bundled packages of mobile, fixed-line, broadband and television services.
In a statement released today, Vodafone said “discussions with Liberty Global have terminated”, without adding any additional information.
Early stages of discussions to potentially swap assets were first announced in June by the companies, somewhat surprising the market after previous rumours indicating both companies’ could be involved in a full merger, worth a blockbuster $120 billion.
Citing a source close to the deal, Reuters reports talks collapsed after both companies failed to agree on the value of their respective businesses, but discussions could potentially be reopened in the future.
Liberty Global chairman John Malone too indicated earlier this month that talks had hit a wall, conceding that both companies had not yet worked out how to progress with the deal.
During an interview with Bloomberg, he compared the discussions as a “tennis match” of ideas, adding that an outright merger was also unlikely, while Vodafone has also consistently distanced itself from such a deal.
Market watchers have long speculated about the nature of a potential asset swap, with complimentary units in Germany, Britain and the Netherlands likely to be involved, indeed where both companies could boost their bundled offerings.
It was also thought that Vodafone could potentially cede control of its businesses in UK and the Netherlands, and opt to takeover Liberty Global’s German assets.
Any deal between the two was however always likely to face tough regulatory scrutiny, and stiff opposition from European rivals.
Vodafone and Liberty Global combined have more than $80 billion in revenue, and approximately $130 billion in market capitalisation.