Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read (pictured) asserted the company was taking proactive action towards in-market consolidation, days after reports emerged claiming activist investor Cevian Capital was pressing the company to restructure its portfolio.

Speaking during the company’s fiscal Q3 2022 (calendar Q4 2021) investor call, Read noted consolidation discussions were ongoing, but declined to detail which Vodafone units could be on the block.

He added the business had the ultimate goal of a portfolio consisting of “strong assets in healthy markets”.

Alongside assessing the future of specific operations, Read noted Vodafone was also progressing an ambition to combine its tower business with a peer.

The executive’s comments came hours after rumours Vodafone was set to merge its Spanish business with rival Masmovil resurfaced in Spanish news website El Confidencial.

It reported all options, including a buyout by Vodafone, were on the table.

The latest stories coming out of Spain follow recent reports linking Vodafone with mergers in Italy and the UK.

Reiterating his view on the need for consolidation in a number of European markets, Read told investors mobile players needed “industrial scale locally” pointing to the high number of operators in the UK, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

He emphasised Vodafone was pro-competition, but explained these countries were “hyper-competitive”.

Fiscal Q3 revenue grew 4.3 per cent year-on-year to €11.7 billion, though the group’s struggles in Italy and Spain continued with service revenue from the two markets declining by 1.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Profit figures are not recorded in Q3.

The operator’s Africa subsidiary Vodacom Group yesterday (1 February) reported a 6.4 per cent rise in revenue to ZAR26.7 billion (€1.5 billion). The South Africa-headquartered unit pointed to “sustained demand for connectivity” alongside growth in its financial services and business divisions.

Vodacom recorded a 16.1 per cent increase in transaction values across its various m-Pesa mobile money operations, with more than ZAR430 billion processed per month on average.