Vodafone Group opened discussions with Liberty Global on acquiring parts of the cable company’s European business, amid rumours the deal would form an asset swap similar to a proposal abandoned three years ago.
In a brief media statement, Vodafone Group said it was in: “Early stage discussions with Liberty Global regarding the potential acquisition of certain overlapping continental European assets owned by Liberty Global.”
“There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms, timing or form of any transaction.” The company added it was not discussing a merger.
A report by Financial Times suggested the proposed deal covered a swap of assets similar to one the two companies opened discussions on in 2015, although this was not confirmed by Vodafone.
Talks in 2015 reportedly collapsed because the businesses could not agree on the value of the individual assets on the table. However, media speculation on the issue resurfaced regularly since. Some reports suggested talks were restarting, while others claimed the two were set for a complete merger.
Most recently, in November 2017, the two were tipped to be preparing their European businesses for a potential tie-up.
Since 2015, the companies have complete one merger deal, to combine Dutch assets to create VodafoneZiggo. Although both promoted the benefits of the combination when it was finally cleared in January 2017, two weeks later Liberty CEO Mike Fries dismissed the prospect of a repeat in other markets.
A deal with Liberty would fit with the multiplay strategy Vodafone talked up in recent years. In several markets the company focused heavily on promoting services outside of mobile and, earlier this week, Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao highlighted the company’s success in offering converged services to customers across several of its European markets.