Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read (pictured) reportedly urged for consolidation between players in Europe to help the industry return to growth, hinting at a merger with rival 3 UK and investment in Virgin Media O2’s fibre rollout as potential moves.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Read argued returns on capital in the European telecoms market have halved in the past ten years, with duplication of infrastructure pinpointed as a main factor for the decline.

The Vodafone chief told the UK newspaper the company constantly holds discussions with players regarding potential deals, adding he supports consolidation on the right terms.

As part of its potential consolidation push, Read said he had been persuading regulators in the region into backing reasonable mergers and collaboration moves so telecoms companies like Vodafone are able to put returns into 5G and fibre investments.

The CEO also explained more than 100 operators currently compete in Europe in a fragmented way, in comparison with the US, China and India which have three big-name players each.

Potential moves
In the interview, Read added a merger between Vodafone and 3 UK should be given the green light by regulators, after the latter was stopped from a plan to tie up with O2 in 2016.

He also hinted at a potential purchase of a stake in Virgin Media O2’s rollout of fibre.

Read’s comments come days after the UK unit of the group extended a deal with CityFibre to boost fibre rollout efforts in the market.