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