Not even a whisper of acquisition, it insists
Spain’s Telefonica has slapped down rumours that American giant AT&T had mounted a surprise takeover bid, but that the government had blocked the move. According to El Mundo newspaper, the friendly bid had been for some €70 billion ($93.5 billion) and €52 billion debt. AT&T has made no secret that it wants to expand beyond US shores, and even Britain’s Vodafone has been speculated as a possible target – with a bid possibly made in conjunction with fellow American operator Verizon Communications.
Telefonica, a former state telecom monopoly that was government-controlled until the late 1990s, has struggled under a heavy debt load in recent years and has gone from being Spain’s largest company by market value to its current third position, behind retailer Inditex and Santander.
Today [June 17th 2013], Telefonica issued a terse statement playing down the takeover reports insisting, “There has been no approach nor any expression of interest, in writing or verbally.”
In Britain, Telefonica owns mobile operator O2 though earlier this year it also ruled out the possibility that it was planning to float its subsidiary on the London market in a bid to ease debts.