Vodafone, Liberty Global in Talks

Wireless Giant Says Talks About Asset Exchange, Not Merger
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U.K. wireless giant Vodafone confirmed that it is in talks with Liberty Global around a possible exchange of assets, but stressed those conversations do not involve a possible combination of the two companies.

In a terse statement Friday, Vodafone clarified what it said were certain press reports that the two were in talks.

"Vodafone confirms that it is in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies," the company said in a statement. "There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor is there certainty with respect to which assets will ultimately be involved. Vodafone is not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies."

Just what those assets could be is anyone's guess. Vodafone has substantial wireless assets in Europe, and Liberty Global has been trying to build a wireless business through a series of MVNO deals and acquisitions. Vodafone has also been an aggressive buyer of cable assets -- it outbid LGI for German cable operator Kabel Deutschland in 2013.

Liberty Global chairman John Malone has been hinting recently that a deal with Vodafone would be a good fit, particularly if it involved its Western European assets.

“We’ve looked at that from our side, and there would be very substantial synergies if we could find a way to work together or combine the companies with respect to Western Europe," Malone told U.K. paper The Guardian last month.

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