Iliad Group appeared to give up on attempts to lure Vodafone into merging units in Italy, pledging to push on with its standalone strategy after a second offer to combine forces was rejected.

In a statement, Iliad revealed Vodafone rejected a revised offer to form a 50:50 joint venture combining the pair’s respective operations in the country. This second bid followed a publicly disclosed initial offer made in December 2023.

Full details of the revised proposal were not disclosed, but Iliad noted among the changed terms was the removal of a call option, which would have given it the opportunity to purchase additional shares in the JV from Vodafone in future.  

Despite the rejection, Iliad maintained the floated deal would have produced “the most innovative telecom challenger for Italy” and it believed the offer “was the best possible business combination to benefit a struggling Italian market and telecommunications industry”.

Iliad noted it would now continue to pursue its “standalone strategy building on its great track record”, pledging to strengthen its play in the country and “fiercely pursue market share gains across all segments”.

Vodafone told Mobile World Live it had stated “in December that we are exploring options with several parties in Italy. We are no longer in talks with Iliad, but our discussions with others continue”.

In November 2023, Swisscom-owned Fastweb was rumoured to be another party in the frame to make a move for Vodafone Italy.

The latest pair of offers are not the first time Iliad has attempted to make a play for Vodafone’s unit in the country, having previously had a buyout offer turned down.

Vodafone’s business in Italy has been part of a group-wide strategic review and has regularly been cited by senior figures as a challenging market suffering high levels of competition.