European wireless giant Vodafone confirmed it is in talks to acquire certain assets from John Malone’s Liberty Global, but stressed the discussions are in early stages and could break down without a deal.
Vodafone, which has more than 120 million wireless customers in Europe, also has been a player in the cable space. It already owns Kabel Deutschland, the largest cable operator in Germany – and an asset it outbid Liberty Global for in 2013 – and Ono in Spain. The talks are apparently centered on areas where the two have overlapping operations, like the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania and Hungary. Liberty Global’s U.K. operations, offered under the Virgin Media brand, are not part of the discussions.
Last year Vodafone entered into a joint venture with Liberty Global’s Ziggo in The Netherlands to create a quadruple play offering of wireless, video, voice and data.
Press speculation in Europe has been high that Vodafone would go after some Liberty Global assets to gain additional scale.
In a statement, Vodafone acknowledged the press speculation and confirmed that it is in “early stage discussions with Liberty Global regarding the potential acquisition of certain overlapping continental European assets owned by Liberty Global.” The company added that here is no certainty a transaction will result from those discussion and stressed it is not in any talks “regarding a combination of both companies.”