Vodafone CEO says he's open to Liberty Global, other deals if the price is right

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said Liberty Global could be a good fit for the UK-based operator at the right price, and also indicated that some sort of "transformational M&A" could be considered in the future.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao

Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao

Speaking to journalists from various media outlets on the sidelines of a closed-door investor conference organised by Goldman Sachs in New York, Colao emphasised that the group's investments in its networks and industry consolidation would be of benefit to Vodafone in the longer term.

The group has made use of its Project Spring investment plan to upgrade networks and snap up cable operators including Kabel Deutschland in Germany and Ono in Spain. The company also previously acquired Cable & Wireless Worldwide in the UK, and is about to increase its investment in Greece-based Hellas Online. Liberty Global has also frequently been cited as a possible option thanks to its cable activities throughout Europe.

Buying up cable assets forms part of a strategy that will put Vodafone firmly on the convergence path, enabling it to offer a stronger range of fixed and mobile services in order to reduce churn and strengthen its revenue position.

Other mobile operators have been pursuing a similar strategy, as they seek to compete with rival mobile providers as well as fixed providers that are moving into the mobile market. Liberty Global itself has established mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) as a way to add mobile voice and data to triple-play bundles of voice, TV and broadband services.

The lines between fixed and mobile operators are blurring, with the likes of BT in the UK also getting back into the mobile market. According to the Financial Times, Colao issued a warning to BT at the event in New York, saying any efforts to offer discounted mobile plans to help drive sales of BT's broadband and pay-TV services would be met with equally aggressive responses from other mobile players.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Financial Times article

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