AT&T rules out Vodafone takeover – or does it?

Britain’s Takeover Panel forces statement after fevered rumours
Vodafone shares drop sharply in early trading

stephenson - in talks @ davos

Frenzied speculation out of Davos that AT&T might be planning an imminent bid for Vodafone were today [27th January 2014] slapped down by the US operator, ahead of the London market opening. When trading did commence, the denial immediately wiped millions of Vodafone’s cap, sending shares plunging by more than 7 per cent to 216 pence. Rumours started flying when it emerged that Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO, had met the EU Telecoms Commissioner Neelie Kroes at the World Economic Forum to discuss his ambition to become a major player in Europe, at the same time sounding out the Commission’s receptiveness to a possible takeover of a firm the size of Vodafone.

But in a rushed breakfast statement today, AT&T was at pains to rule out any acquisition plans, adding that it had been asked to put the record straight by the UK Takeover Panel.

But in a mixed signal, AT&T also reserved the “right to announce or participate in an offer or possible offer for Vodafone which would otherwise be restricted under the Panel’s rules for six months” – seemingly suggesting that a deal might still be in mind.

Meanwhile, back at Davos, the AT&T boss was also said to have held talks with Joaquin Almunia, the EU Competition Commissioner, again suggesting that something by way of a deal was afoot.

It if did go ahead, it would create a global behemoth in the telecoms sector with a market value of well over £150 billion.

In the midst of all this, Vodafone and Verizon shareholders meet tomorrow to vote on a separate £130 billion deal to sign off the UK phone operator’s 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless.

If approved as expected, that will result in Vodafone handing over a £54.3 billion windfall to its shareholders.

About Dave Evans

Dave Evans is a long established commentator on both the IT and cellular industries. His current focus is on share price trends within the sector. You can email him here
This article was published in Financial, Vodafone, at&t, mobile news, verizon and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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