Another day, another rumour about a mobile operator thinking about buying more fixed-line assets to boost its convergence strategy: latest reports suggest Orange is interested in bolstering its position in Spain by buying Jazztel, while Vodafone is said to be weighing an increase in its stake in Greek broadband provider Hellas Online.
Orange is seeking targets in Spain to avoid being left behind as consolidation intensifies in the market, and is in discussions with banks, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified sources. Jazztel and Yoigo, the country's fourth mobile operator owned by TeliaSonera, have been named as potential targets, with Jazztel said to be of particular interest.
"This could well be the year when we see some real consolidation taking place in the Spanish telecommunications industry," Stephane Beyazian, analyst at Raymond James Euro Equities, told Bloomberg. "Jazztel is getting quite expensive but it could still make sense for Orange to buy it."
Orange is the third-largest mobile operator in Spain behind Movistar and Vodafone Spain and, like its rivals, has been offering so-called "quadruple" plans that bundle fixed and mobile services in order to lock in subscribers. Vodafone Spain is also believed to be pursuing cable operator Ono to fulfil similar convergence goals, although Ono said this month it still intends to go public.
Vodafone is generally interested in picking up fixed assets where it makes sense across Europe, and recently acquired Kabel Deutschland in Germany. The company is now also reportedly in talks about increasing its stake in Greek broadband provider Hellas Online. Bloomberg reported that Vodafone currently owns an 18.5 per cent stake, while Intracom Holdings of Athens holds the majority.
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