Vodafone Ends Talks with John Malone’s Liberty Global over Assets Swap

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

European shares dip, VW loses ground.

LONDON — Vodafone Group, the world’s second-largest mobile-phone company, has ended talks with John Malone’s international cable operator Liberty Global regarding an assets swap. London – British shares fell on Monday, slightly underperforming the broader European market, hit by fresh fears over miner Glencore’s ability to withstand a metals price slump and an end to deal talks at Vodafone.

Talks between Vodafone and Liberty Global about exchanging assets to better compete in Europe’s converging mobile, broadband and TV markets collapsed on Monday because they could not agree on the value of their businesses.London – European shares dipped lower on Monday, although Vodafone lagged after ending talks with Liberty Global and carmaker Volkswagen, which has been hit by an emissions data scandal, also declined. Glencore slumped more than 15 percent to a new all-time low after a bearish note from broker Investec that raised doubts over the mining and commodities company’s valuation and high debt levels.

Vodafone, the world’s second-biggest mobile operator, said in June it was considering swapping some assets with Europe’s biggest cable company, a move that would enable the groups to sell packages of mobile, fixed-line, broadband and television increasingly offered by rivals. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.1 percent, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.3 percent, with both markets retreating after rising by around 3 percent on Friday. Vodafone’s cable business in Germany, market leader Kabel Deutschland, was thought to be one focus of the assets swap, while Vodafone was believed to have viewed Liberty Global’s U.K. cable company Virgin Media as one it would like to acquire.

Liberty Chairman John Malone, who saw the companies as a “great fit”, said earlier this month they were struggling to progress with the plan, telling Bloomberg that “conceptually there could be some real value created but realistically we haven’t been able to figure out a way to do that that’s mutually successful”. The outlook for China’s economy was also a drag, with forecasts pointing to a likely shrinking of the country’s giant factory sector for the second month in a row. Shares in Vodafone, which had fallen 10 per cent since the talks were revealed in June, were trading down 3.7 per cent at a four-month low of 209.5 pence at 0245 EDT. “Today’s news will surely disappoint near-term, but we think investors may come to believe it represents a delay, not the end of the process,” they said. But Spain’s constitution does not allow any region to break away, so the prospect remains hypothetical. “Overall sentiment remains negative for now while there is much talk about a squeeze on earnings and lower economic growth in the months ahead,” said Peregrine & Black senior sales trader Markus Huber. Volkswagen shares were among the worst performers in Europe, falling 3 percent after two German newspapers reported on Sunday that Volkswagen’s own staff and one of its suppliers warned years ago about software designed to thwart emissions tests.

Vodafone is facing an acceleration in convergence in its home market, after Britain’s biggest fixed-line and mobile operators BT and EE agreed to merge earlier this year. VW shares have fallen by more than 30 percent over the last week after the German company acknowledged installing software in diesel engines designed to hide their emissions of toxic gasses. However, there were signs elsewhere that merger activity remained alive, with SABMiller shares rising 4.1 percent after the Sunday Times newspaper reported that Anheuser-Busch InBev SA could bid about $106 billion for SABMiller within days. “We don’t think that merger and acquisition activity will be derailed by the market volatility,” said Edouard Petitcollot, senior fund manager at Candriam Investors Group. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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