The deal for Vodafone to buy German cable company Kabel Deutschland has been hit by uncertainty with doubts about whether enough Kabel shareholders will tender their shares by a deadline this week.
In order for the Vodafone-Kabel deal to proceed, 75 per cent of Kabel shareholders need to tender their shares in the first stage of a two-stage tender process. However, a number of shareholders believe the threshold, which is higher than some similar deals, will not be reached by Wednesday’s deadline, according to the Financial Times.
Vodafone agreed a €7.7 billion deal for Kabel Deutschland in June as it looks to offer both mobile and fixed line services as part of its ‘quad-play’ strategy in Germany.
Kabel’s management and supervisory board backed Vodafone’s offer at the beginning of August, recommending that the company’s shareholders accept it.
Some shareholders are concerned that the deal could fail if Vodafone does not lower the proportion of shares needed for the deal to proceed. This looks unlikely with Vodafone saying in a statement that there will be “no change to the conditions set out in our earlier announcement”.
Speaking to the FT, one Kabel shareholder cited eight major deals that have taken place in Germany since 2007, in which the total number of shares tendered in the first phase averaged 68.5 per cent.
Among the shareholders considered a risk to the deal are index-tracking investors which account for around 10 per cent of Kabel’s shareholders. These investors are believed unlikely to tender their shares in the first phase, preferring to make their move in the second phase.
If Vodafone fails at the first hurdle, it could be prevented from making another bid for Kabel for 12 months. A failure could also make Vodafone vulnerable to AT&T, which is believed to be interested in the UK-based operator group’s wireless operations in Europe, according to the FT.